PD 'needs to team up on civil unions'

'We don't have the numbers to go it alone' says minister

(ANSA) - Bologna, February 19 - Reform Minister Maria Elena Boschi said Friday the ruling Democratic Party (PD) must team up with other parties or its civil unions bill now before the Senate won't get passed. "Laws are made when the numbers are there," Boschi said. "Right now the PD is not self-sufficient in the Senate, not even if we add the Left Ecology and Freedom (SEL) votes. So we must find a place of agreement among the available forces". Debate on the bill has been adjourned to next Wednesday after it ran aground earlier in the week.
    "The fact that this issue is being faced in parliament for the first time ever is not a defeat - I believe it is a victory... (and) an act of courage on the part of this parliament," Boschi added.
    The bill would extend to committed gay couples some of the same rights and protections currently enjoyed by heterosexual married couples. It seeks to fill a legislative vacuum, as Italy is the only western European country not to have either legalised gay marriage or recognised civil unions between same-sex couples.
    "I hope the road ahead is short, because a lot of people have been waiting too long and have a right to see their rights recognized," she concluded.
    The 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 the party stance - to return to their former backing of the bill. 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.