ITALY will now recognise same-sex unions after Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called for a confidence vote on a bill that would give legal rights to gay couples.

The decision came after a years-long battle amid opposition from the Catholic Church. But Prime Minister Renzi had promised the legalise gay rights when he took office in 2014.

The Italian Parliament voted 372 to 51, with 99 abstentions, to approve the legislation that had already been passed by the Senate in February.

Although the bill does not give gay couples full marriage or adoption rights, activists have described it as a historic step in the right direction.

Under the new law, same-sex couples will be able to share a surname and inherit each other’s assets.

It will also impact unmarried heterosexual couples, giving them the right to be treated as each other’s next of kin.

Prime Minister Renzi wrote on Facebook: “Today is a day of celebration for so many.”

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