PD to try again with unchanged civil-uni

Measure ran aground after M5S pulled support from 'kangaroo'

(ANSA) - Rome, February 17 - The ruling Democratic Party (PD) on Wednesday vowed to press head with an unchanged version of its controversial civil-unions bill despite calls from Catholics to scrap a provision for gay parents to adopt their partners' biological children.
    The bill was expected to be approved by the Senate this week but ran aground Tuesday after the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement pulled support from the PD's so-called 'kangaroo' amendment which would have quashed hundreds of similar amendments, most of them concerning the contested clause on stepchild adoption.
    Debate on the bill was therefore postponed until next Wednesday, as Italy's LGBT community appealed to the M5S - many of whose rank and file are said to be unhappy with its stance - to return to their former stance.
    Despite the setback, the Senate PD caucus decided to fight for the bill as it stands, without giving in to the opposition demands that it scrap Article 5 granting partners in a civil union the right to adopt each other's children.
    The PD caucus is looking for strategies to bypass or overcome opposition both outside and within the ruling PD, sources said. Article 5 of the bill is opposed by Catholics throughout the political spectrum, who say it would pave the way to legalized surrogate motherhood.
    Interior Minister Angelino Alfano earlier hailed the Senate's decision to suspend debate on the civil unions bill until next Wednesday.
    "The postponement is a victory of common sense - our common sense," said the leader of the New Center Right (NCD) party, a junior member of the ruling left-right coalition. "Common sense has won over the PD's temptation to overdo it, and over those who said the only way to stop gay adoptions is to threaten a government crisis".
    Debate should now restart from the governing majority between the NCD and the PD after the bill ran aground.
    "We kept to the right line," he said, referring to the NCD's opposition to the stepchild adoption clause. "Now let's hope the PD understands that it has to start over from the ruling majority".
    That would mean acceding to the NCD's key demand that stepchild adoption be scrapped, but Reform Minister Maria Elena Boschi was undaunted about the prospects of an unchanged bill, with the key provision, coming out on top.
    "We're optimistic, we're still optimistic...we'll keep on working," said Boschi, a key ally of Renzi.
    A meeting of Upper House whips decided to postpone debate on the bill to next Wednesday, Senator Renato Schifani of the centrist AP group announced earlier in the day.
    Premier Matteo Renzi's centre-left PD requested the delay after the package ran into trouble. The bill's progress was thrown into doubt on Tuesday when the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) said it would not vote for a so-called 'kangaroo' amendment to strike down many other amendments presented by opponents to the bill. The PD rapporteur of the bill, Senator Monica Cirinnà said she will quit politics if her bill is fundamentally changed.
    "I repeat that I was wrong to trust the Senate M5S," she said via Twitter. "If the law on civil unions is turned into junk, I'm ready to take my signature (off the bill) and leave politics".
    "I know that I was wrong to trust the 5-Star Movement and I'll pay for this" Cirinnà told reporters in the Senate earlier on Wednesday. "I assume the political responsibility for having trusted them. I'll end my political career with this slip. I acknowledge it".
    Italy's LGBT community issued a statement saying the M5S should change its mind and support gay rights.
    "Show responsibility before the country," the statement urged. Gay Center, one of the leading LGBT groups, said it would set up a Vaffa (F-Off) Day for Gays, echoing M5S leader Beppe Grillo's many Vaffa Days calling for parliament to get rid of corrupt politicians.
    "Now that Grillo's become a Christian Democrat, it's up to us to put on a Vaffa Day," it said.