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Nearly 1 Million Italians Rally for Civil Unions

Italy

Demonstrators flooded the streets in cities across Italy, urging their government to legally recognize unions for same-sex couples.

Italians have sent a strong message to their government in the name of l'amore.

Hailing it as "a historic day for our country," the LGBT group Arcigay estimated that 1 million people took to the streets Saturday in nearly 100 cities across Italy, reports The New York Times.

Protestors are urging their lawmakers to pass legislation that would recognize civil unions for same-sex couples. This legislation is also expected to grant custody of children raised by these couples to both partners, not just the biological parent.

Italy is the last Western European country without some form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples.

The Senate is to begin debate on the civil unions bill Thursday. If it passes the bill, it will go to the other house of Parliament, the Chamber of Deputies. It is expected to pass both houses, but supporters in the largely Catholic country fear it will be weakened in the process.

The opposition has proposed up to 6,000 amendments that would impede it, including one that would punish same-sex couples who use overseas surrogates to become parents.

The amendment would require same-sex couples entering into a civil union to prove they had not used the services of a surrogate from another country.

Pope Francis, who famously asked "Who am I to judge?" when it came to gay priests, also made comments ahead of the Thursday debate.

"There can be no confusion between the family God wants and any other type of union," he said Friday to a Vatican court, according to The Guardian.

"The family, founded on indissoluble matrimony that unites and allows procreation, is part of God's dream and that of his Church for the salvation of humanity," he concluded.

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