Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Rome on Saturday to protest Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s attempt to push a civil union bill through parliament, waving signs in opposition to same-sex marriage, AFP reports:
Holding aloft banners reading “The family will save the world” and “Let’s defend our children”, a sea of people crammed into the San Giovanni square near the Italian capital’s historic centre to support family values.
The square, which can hold an estimated 300,000 people, was overflowing with the young, elderly and parents with toddlers, an AFP photographer said, with many more demonstrators spilling into nearby streets.
Renzi wants to pass the civil union bill by July and it is currently in the hands of the Italian senate.
AFP adds: “While a survey published by Italian daily La Stampa at the end of May found that 51 percent of voters would support gay marriage, protesters in Rome said the state should stop trying to interfere in sexual or gender education.”
Italy has been making strides toward equality in recent months.
In January, Rome’s City Council voted 32-10 to establish a registry for civil unions.
In February, Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation, the country’s highest appeals court, ruled that same-sex marriage is not a constitutional right. It did rule, however, that same-sex couples in Italy were entitled to certain rights and protections which the state must guarantee.
And even in popular culture, the issue is advancing. For the first time on Italian TV, a gay couple got engaged. The proposal took place on Italia’s Got Talent, after Les Farfadais, a troupe of acrobatic dancers, performed a routine to “The Power of Love”. One of the dancers then got down on one knee, and after his boyfriend said “yes” the couple kissed on stage.
Watch some scenes from Saturday’s protest in Rome, below: