The landmark legislation that came into effect today was passed in May, overruling opposition from the country's powerful Catholic Church
Italy's long-awaited, much-disputed law allowing gay civil unions took effect today after it was published in an official journal, as couples start applying for legal recognition of their same-sex relationships.
In Milan, an official went on Wednesday to an intensive care unit to perform the civil union ceremony of a terminally ill 53-year-old teacher named Margherita and her partner of 28 years. Theirs will be the first union registered in Milan in about 10 days' time, the city told the media.
Throughout Italy, town halls have reported that requests for gay unions have started coming in.
The Italian parliament passed the landmark legislation in May overruling opposition from the country's powerful Catholic Church. It introduces civil unions for the first time, but denies same sex couples equal adoption rights to their heterosexual counterparts.
Italy was the last major Western country to introduce legal recognition of gay relationships, and the law's provisions do not go as far as the gay marriage legislation enacted in other European countries such as Britain, France and Spain.
Some more complicated cases in Italy, such as couples of different nationalities who got married overseas, will have to wait a bit longer until a definitive decree of the new law is made by early December.