Italian parliament delivered a victory for the rights of same-sex couples on Wednesday, voting to approve a bill that recognizes same-sex civil unions and gives partners some of the same rights as heterosexual couples.
The bill means that same-sex couples will be given the right to share surnames, pensions, and inherit assets, Reuters reports. LGBT people will also finally be legally regarded as their partners' next of kin in medical emergencies.
“Today is a day of celebration for so many people. We are writing another important page of the Italy we want," wrote Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Facebook, according to the Guardian. "It was no longer acceptable to have any more delays after years of failed attempts.”
The legislation stops short of granting same-sex civil unions the same protections that married people have: spouses are not guaranteed the right to adopt their partner's children, and critics say the protections don't go as far as laws in other European countries.
"The text contains the recognition and protection many gays and lesbians have been waiting for all their lives," Gabriele Piazzoni an LGBT rights campaigner and leader of the advocacy group Italian Arcigay, told the BBC. He said the bill signified some progress but that "the glass is half full".
Gay marriage is still illegal in the majority-Catholic nation.