A major rally was held in Rome last Saturday in defense of family values and in protest of government plans to give rights to unwed and same-sex couples. Some 200,000 people from all over Italy took part in the ‘Family Day’ demonstration, which was promoted by the Roman Catholic Church and centre-right parties that are demanding more government aid for families.
The Church had been urging its members to support ‘Family Day’ for months, arguing that traditional values are being threatened by legislation known as DICO. Under the terms of the bill, cohabiting heterosexual and gay couples would be able to register their union, obtaining certain financial and inheritance rights and ‘next of kin’ privileges if their partners are physically or mentally incapacitated.
Centre-left premier Romano Prodi promised the new law in his election programme, but the bill has yet to win parliamentary approval. DICO has come under repeated attack from the Catholic Church, which expresses particular alarm over its inclusion of gay partners. Most parties in the Silvio Berlusconi-led opposition have taken the Church’s side. Even centrists in Prodi’s disparate, nine-way coalition are against the proposed law, including justice minister Clemente Mastella. Mastella, who heads the tiny Catholic UDEUR party, attended Saturday’s demonstration along with education minister Giuseppe Fioroni, a member of the centrist Daisy party, the second largest party in government.