Italy’s highest appeals court has rejected same-sex marriage stating that there is nothing in the constitution to require the Government to redefine marriage.
The court, known as the Cassation Court, did however state that gay couples should have “the right to a ‘protective’ law that would ensure same-sex couples have the same rights as unmarried Italian couples”.
Italy’s constitution defines the family as “a natural society founded on marriage.” There is strong public opinion against gay marriage and the courts have rejected previous attempts to give legal recognition to same-sex couples.
But this latest ruling and mounting pressure from campaigners is likely to prompt a bill to create registered same-sex civil unions.
The Prime Minister Matteo Renzi pledged the legislation when he formed his Government last year.
The Republic of Ireland is set to hold a referendum on same-sex marriage in May this year.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has expressed his support and says he will “campaign strongly” for it.
Last year, the Northern Ireland Assembly rejected gay marriage for the third time.
Pro-traditional marriage campaigners said those pushing for a change should “take the hint”.
In 2013 the Croatian people voted by a large majority to back traditional marriage in a referendum.
Two-thirds of those who voted supported changing the country’s constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.