Thousands of people gathered in Rome, Italy, to protest against a proposed bill that would give marriage and adoption rights to gay couples.

Italy is the only Western country in Europe which has not legally recognised same-sex couples and as a consequence, has faced repeated complaints from European Court of Human Rights.

The country’s parliament, which has deep Roman Catholic roots, began considering legislation which would change that earlier this week, sparking a backlash from many.

Only a week after gay rights rallies were held across Italy, tens of thousands of anti-gay rights protesters gathered for “Family Day”, carrying banners with slogans like: “It is wrong even if it becomes law”.

Massimo Gandolfini, organiser of the protest, told the crowd that the legislation now in the Senate needs to be defeated. “A man and a woman form a marriage,” he said. “The others are alchemy.”

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi faces heavy opposition in his bid to pass the bill.

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