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Italy: Same-Sex Marriage Ban Upheld by Constitutional Court

(Apr. 22, 2010) On April 14, 2010, the Constitutional Court of Italy upheld the country's prohibition against same-sex marriages. The question brought before the Court by the appeals court of Trento and the tribunal of Venice was whether provisions in the Civil Code that in effect ban such marriages conflict with article 2 (on the recognition and guarantee of inviolable rights of the person) and 117 (on vesting of legislative powers “in the State and the Regions in compliance with the Constitution and with the constraints deriving from EU legislation and international obligations”) of the Italian Constitution. (Daniel Richey, Italy High Court Upholds Same-Sex Marriage Ban, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST, Apr. 15, 2010, available at
; La Costituzione [in Italian & in English (under “Traduzioni”)], Italian Senate website, (last visited Apr. 19, 2010).)

In a brief statement, the Court declared the question inadmissible with regard to articles 2 and 117 and unfounded in connection with articles 3 (on equality of citizens before the law, without discrimination) and 29 (on marriage and the family). (Richey, supra; Press Release, Corte Costituzionale, Matrimonio tra persone dello stesso sesso (Apr. 14, 2010), available at
a/Matrimonio gay_199.doc
.) According to the Court judgment, the Civil Code provisions that were challenged in the case brought before the Court by the Venice tribunal included articles 93, 96, 98, 107, 108, 143, 143-bis e 156-bis. These articles in part, the suit stated, if systematically interpreted, did not allow persons of homosexual orientation to contract a marriage with persons of the same sex. (Sentenza N. 138 Anno 2010, Repubblica Italiana, in Nome del Popolo Italiano, La Corte Costituzionale, WEST, Apr. 19, 2010, available at

Although in 2007 Italy's Cabinet had approved a proposal to grant certain legal rights to unmarried couples, including same-sex couples, that proposal ultimately was not adopted by the legislature. Several countries in Western Europe, however, have granted legal recognition to same-sex couples, most recently Sweden in April 2009 and Portugal in January 2010. (Richey, supra; see also Eduardo Soares, Portugal: Gay Marriage Law Approved by Constitutional Tribunal, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR, Apr. 12, 2010, available at //, & Eduardo Soares, Portugal: Gay Marriage Approved by Parliament, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR, Jan. 13, 2010, available at //