Italy the last Western Europe nation to create civil unions for same-sex couples

The Italian Senate passed a bill on Wednesday

LGBT, survey, GLEN, gay, bisexual, transgender, Ireland, LGBTIreland Report, Dr Carol Anne OBrien

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The lower house of Italy’s Parliament Have voted largely in favour to enact a bill to create a civil union status for same-sex couples.

On Wednesday, a bill was adopted by a vote of 372 to 51 with 99 abstentions, in the first step towards ending Italy’s current status as the last country in Western Europe that provides zero legal recognition for gay and lesbian relationships.

Earlier this week, the ILGA-Europe – the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association - released their figures on the rankings of equality of the LGBTQA citizens of Europe, and while Ireland did quite well, there appears to be a very even split down the middle, as Western Europe continues to grant more and more rights, while for the most part, Eastern Europe continues to strip them away.

The history of pro-LGBTQA rights in Europe actually begins with Poland. While Turkey has legalized homosexuality since 1858, Poland had never officially illegalized homosexuality, until forty years after its independence, and in 1835, the anti-sodomy laws of Russia were passed into Polish law.

However, once the country regained it's independence in the wake of World War I, in 1932 it became the first country in the 20th Century to decriminilalize homosexuality activity, and was soon followed by Denmark (1933), Iceland (1940), Switzerland (1942) and Sweden (1944).

Since then, "same-sex activity" has been legalized in all 28 states of the European Union, but the recognition of same-sex unions is less widely allowed (21 of 28), while actual same-sex marriage is far less accepted (12 of 28).

Netherlands was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001, followed by Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Iceland (2010), Portugal (2010), Denmark (2012), United Kingdom excluding Northern Ireland (2014), Ireland (2015), Luxemborg (2015), France (2013), with Finland set to join in 2017.

However, preceding the first legalized same-sex marriage by a decade, a number of countries have criminalized the act in Europe:

- Bulgaria in 1991

- Lithuania in 1992

- Belarus in 1994

- Moldova in 1994

- Ukraine in 1996

- Poland in 1997

- Latvia in 2006

- Serbia in 2006

- Montenegro in 2007

- Hungary in 2012

- Croatia in 2013

- Slovakia in 2014

While Italy has been behind the rest of it's Western European neighbours in terms of recognition, it has been ahead of the curve in other matters, such as LGB allowed to serve openly in military, the banning of some anti-gay discrimination, and since 1982 it created legal recognition and allowed the amendment to documents in order to recognised gender in relation to gender identity and/or expression.