Strong empathy in favour of civil and gay unions but treading more carefully on adoptions.
In light of the recent calls from Brussels, which include a sentence handed down by the European Court of Human Rights in July and a request from the European Parliament at the beginning of September, it seems that the moment has arrived for Italy to implement civil rights reforms, in particular legislation that would recognise civil unions for cohabiting couples, both heterosexual and homosexual. But how aligned are the European Union’s demands with the opinions of Italians – or of the increasing number of Italians who are discussing such things online on social media, blogs and forums?
Analysing over 100,000 comments made between June – shortly after Ireland’s 23 May referendum on gay marriage that heated up online debates – until mid- September, we noted that there seems to be a clear convergence over the idea of broadening the concept of the family to include cohabiting couples. In fact, 73.6% of comments on the subject were in favour of civil unions between people of the same sex and well over 60% were in favour of passing legalisation to legalise gay marriage. Interestingly, this latter majority in favour of gay marriage has been relatively steady over the last four years: the percentage was 57.6% in 2012, 60% the following year and then peaked around the time of the Irish referendum, which captured the interest of the supporters of gay marriage. In other words, it is not a surprising or unexpected development.