Finally, the Italian parliament today legalised civil unions. The law makes Italy the last country in western Europe to provide a legal framework for same-sex couples.

The lower house backed the bill, with 372 votes in favor and 51 against, in a definitive vote on the law allowing same-sex civil unions. Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Renzi won a vote of confidence in his government to help obtain parliamentary approval for the contested measure.

“For many, today is a day for celebrations,” Renzi wrote on Facebook hours before members of the Chamber of Deputies in Rome approved the reform in a 372-51 vote, with 99 abstentions.

Monsignor Nunzio Galantino, secretary-general of the Italian bishops’ conference, said on the eve of the vote that it was “a defeat for everyone.” Alfio Marchini, a center-right candidate for Rome mayor running in elections next month, said he would not celebrate homosexual unions in the capital.

Gay rights activists hailed the vote as historic, but they voiced disappointment that the government had sacrificed a provision to allow gay adoption to ensure passage.

The law grants same-sex and unmarried heterosexual couples some benefits including the right to take each other’s names and to inherit each other’s pensions, though it falls short of real marriage status. In order to further differentiate the unions from marriage, the amended law also removed any reference to the need for faithfulness between partners.

The Vatican maintains that marriage is a lifelong bond between man and woman.

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