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Italy Senate Approves Civil Unions


FILE - People are seen at a gay rights rally prior to a vote at the Italian parliament to change laws on recognition of rights for same-sex couples, in downtown Milan, Italy, Feb. 21, 2016.

Italy's Senate passed a historic bill Thursday granting legal recognition to civil unions for same-sex couples.

The bill passed by a strong 173-71 margin.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called the bill's passage "historic" but many activists criticized the removal of a provision allowing adoption rights for gay couples to ensure passage. Lawmakers also removed language that appeared to authorize gay marriage.

The bill must still pass through Italy's lower chamber. In the Senate it passed after years of delay. The European Court of Human Rights condemned Italy in 2015 for discriminating against gay couples.

Pope Francis had no immediate comment on the bill or its passage.