Thousands of Italians take to the streets in support of gay civil unions, ahead of a bill to be debated in parliament. Yiming Woo reports.
Thousands gather in Rome to show their support for gay civil unions. All over the country, rallies like this are calling for the Italian government to legally recognise homosexual couples. This slogan says "It's time to be civilised, wake up Italy". It's the only major country in the West not to give same-sex couples any legal recognition, or protection on issues from pensions to parenthood. Some opponents say it's the right of the child to have heterosexual parents, but many at the rally say that's discrimination too. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) SPOKESPERSON OF GLOBE-MAE, AN ASSOCIATION OF LGBT EMPLOYEES OF ITALY'S FOREIGN MINISTRY, SERGIO STROZZI, SAYING: "It is discrimination that also targets children because in Italy, like in all European countries, there are many children of homosexual couples, who have a good family life, they are children of their parents, parents who are of the same sex and the children consider them to be their parents. The time has come to get rid of these discriminations." The influence of the Catholic Church is seen as a strong brake and legislation has been held up by politicians of all stripes. The floor of the Senate will begin debate on a bill to legalise civil partnership for homosexuals as well as unmarried heterosexual couples on Thursday.