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This Is What The Fight For Gay Couples' Rights Looks Like In Italy

Italy is the last country in Western Europe without protections for same-sex couples, but its Parliament takes up a bill next week that could change that.

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Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has been trying to get legislation through parliament for almost two years, but it has been blocked in part by partners in his ruling coalition and members of his Democratic Party close to the Catholic hierarchy.

Italy's first out gay minister, Ivan Scalfarotto went on a hunger strike last summer hoping to break the log-jam.

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The battle has been framed as a referendum on the Catholic Church under Pope Francis and its role in Italian politics — lawmakers credit his conciliatory tone towards LGBT people with creating the space to finally legislate on the issue.

But earlier this month, Pope Francis appeared to signal opposition to the bill, saying, "there can be no confusion between the family God wants and any other type of union.”

This weekend, opponents of the bill are organizing a "family day" in Rome, which is expected to have crowds so large that the Italian train company is offering discounted fares of the kind routinely offered for major events.

Around 1,000 amendments to the bill are pending in the Senate, so it could take a while before the bill comes to a final vote.

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Senators will use a secret ballot to vote on the most sensitive of these amendments, which concerns adoption rights.

J. Lester Feder is a world correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. His secure PGP fingerprint is 2353 DB68 8AA6 92BD 67B8 94DF 37D8 0A6F D70B 7211

Contact J. Lester Feder at lester.feder@buzzfeed.com.

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