A group of mostly right-wing lawmakers in Italy have said they intend to hold a referendum to overturn same-sex civil unions, approved earlier this week.
Members of Silvio Berlusconi‘s Forza Italia, the far-right Northern League and various other factions are hoping to raise the 500,000 signatures required to force a referendum. They will begin the process as soon as the law is signed by President Sergio Mattarella.
Democratic Party Senator Monica Cirinna, who guided the legislation through parliament despite fierce opposition led by the Catholic Church, said she would welcome a popular vote. “Italian citizens have never voted for discrimination,” she said. “They have always confirmed major civil rights advances which have already happened.”
According to AFP, Italian Senate member Carlo Giovanardi, a vocal opponent of same-sex civil unions, said the referendum move was a protest at the way the legislation was pushed through parliament, not motivated by homophobia. “We are not against the recognition of rights but we are resorting to a referendum because [Prime Minister Matteo] Renzi (above) prevented us from amending and debating the law,” he said.
Opponents of the law are also planning legal challenges on two fronts: one that it is anti-constitutional because the proposed civil unions are too close to marriage, and another on the grounds that the financing of the law’s application has not been properly provided for.
Assuming the required 500,000 signatures can be raised, verified by the Court of Cassation, approved by the Constitutional Court and a quorum met in the vote, the “no” side would have to win the referendum by at least 50 percent plus one.
However, a referendum looks unlikely to be successful. A vote to overturn the law would also be legally complicated as the first civil unions are expected to happen this fall, before the referendum could be organized.
Watch a Euronews report on the passing of civil unions legislation below.
(Matteo Renzi image Wikimedia Commons)