The Italian Camera dei Deputati (the lower chamber of the Parliament) has approved a new rule which extends its politician's health benefits to their gay partners.
Now LGBT ‘deputati’, or members of the parliament (MPs), who pay for their insurance, can have their rights extended to the men or the women they live with.
The move was pushed for by gay deputati Ivan Scalfarotto who wanted his own partner protected.
The breakthrough yesterday (14 May) came after MP Anna Paola Concia had tried, without success, to extend her rights to her wife during the last parliament. Concia is married abroad.
But this time agreement was reached thanks to the backing of left-wing and right-wing parties, which are now in a government coalition together.
Italian politics is still split over the issue however. Beppe Grillo’s Movimento 5 Stelle (M5s), which at the last elections (24 and 25 February) gained more than the 25% of the vote, branded the new right ‘a privilege of a caste’.
M5S is against ‘the clique of politicians’ and the high costs of the Italian politics and the Italian bureaucracy.
And they are not the only ones who are unhappy. Many normal Italians have gone online to complain that politicians are giving themselves rights which are not available to other LGBT Italians – the country still does not recognize gay and lesbian marriage.
One commentator on Il Fatto Quotidiano’s website wrote: ‘Why for the MPs only? Now in Italy there are class B same-sex couples as well.’
Sinistra Ecologia e Libertà’s leader, gay Puglia governor Nichi Vendola, tweeted: ‘This must not be a privilege for few people. Everyone deserves equal treatment.’
But Alessandro Zan MP said: ‘This is an important decision because it sanctions a principle of equality.
‘That same principle which has to be extended to everyone and which explains why it is urgent to have laws on gay couples.’
And gay Senator Sergio Lo Giudice (Partito Democratico) said: ‘Now I want the same to happen in the Senate. I requested to extend my health insurance to my husband Michele.’