Gay couples can't be married in Italy but one town in the north of the country has decided they can, at least, be buried together.
Vimercate, a town in the Lombardy region, changed the rules yesterday (11 June) so gay and lesbian couples now have the right to apply to have adjacent graves in the local cemetery when they die.
The industrial town of 25,000 inhabitants, near Milan, split on the issue, with a part of the assembly – led by left-wing parties - voting against the new local law.
Even the local Catholic priest, don Mirko Bellora, opposed the move. He said: ‘I hope this local law is going to be changed again.’
Nina Laino, who is in charge of the families’ register in Vimercate, told Gay Star News: ‘We have changed the cemeteries’ rules. They will be fully operative from next Saturday [15 June].
‘No same-sex couples have applied to be buried together yet, but we decided to set up new rules for the future.’
A local councillor led a campaign against the new law. And the local left-wing Partito Democratico (PD) split as well.
Laino added: ‘It has been very simple, we only had to change some words in the local rules. We wrote “partner” instead of “husband” and “wife”, it was not such a big effort.’
But the Vimercate’s council is working also on giving more rights to gay couples, though they will stop short of a gay partner's register.
Laino said: ‘We are not going to introduce a Registro delle unioni civili, like that in Milan and in other Italian cities.
‘We won’t have an official register of the same-sex couples, but we are going to guarantee local welfare and benefits to gay couples as well.’
Mariasole Mascia, the local councillor in charge of the equality policies, said: ‘This is a natural evolution, we are respecting the new social context which is already existing.'