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Italian gay rights activists rally for universal marriage and adoption rights

Thousands of LGBTI activists have rallied in Rome to protest Italy's desire to water down its civil union bill. The new legislation no longer gives homosexuals the right to adopt their partner's children.

Donning the gay pride rainbow on their cheeks and holding banners which read "we want equality," "love counts" and "the law and its rights are for everybody," around 20,000 protestors gathered in Rome's famous Piazza del Popolo to protest government plans to implement a civil union bill which fails to recognize their right to legally marry and also adopt their partners' biological children.

Demonstrators say the proposal - which had been

reined in in a bid to pass the senate

, and is now being assessed by the lower house - only goes part of the way to securing rights for Italy's homosexual families.

"Today's demonstration is meant to show that the Italian people aren't happy with our parliament and government," Pietro Stramba-Badiale, spokesman for civil rights group ParteCivile, told DW.

But it was not only LGBTI activists, Stramba-Badiale added, who were out demonstrating on Saturday.

"A large number of associations and entities - those focused on political and social issues, worker's organizations and the main Italian trade union," made their voices heard, he added.

Those demonstrating want to see Italy on par with a number of other European Union states. "They are all calling for a modern, equal law in Italy which is comparable with the laws more or less available in all other western European countries," Pietro Stramba-Badiale said.

Rights activists irate

One clause included in the bill in particular has raised the ire of activists. The passage which would have allowed gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex people to adopt their partners' biological children was dumped from the proposed legislation after Prime Minister Matteo Renzi succumbed to pressure from the Catholic Church.

Veronica Croce, who was at the rally with her partner and her partner's young son, told the AFP news agency there was something "fundamentally missing from the law: the possibility to adopt partners' children."

Italien Demonstration für Adoptionsrecht für gleichgeschlechtliche Paare in Italien

Around 20,000 people took to the streets to protest Rome's planned bill

Should the bill pass Italy's lower house and be ratified, something which is expected to occur in the next two months, adoption will not be completely ruled out. Couples will have the opportunity to go to court where their cases will be determined before a judge on a case by case basis. Something, Stramba-Badiale says is "horrific" and a violation of universal human rights.

"The political compromise denies the rights of the weakest persons - the children - to have two caring and loving parents, no matter their sex or gender," ParteCivile's spokesperson said.

Activists are hopeful of forcing an amendment to the draft before it is enacted, or at least begin a public debate on gay rights, equal marriage and adoption.

"We want a law stating that two persons in love - no matter their sex or gender - can get married and become a family, with all the same rights and duties, including the right to become parents," Stramba-Badiale added.

The ultimate goal, he says, "is equal marriage. Love is for everybody."

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