One of Italy’s biggest banks has announced that it will now provide LGBT employees with the same spousal benefits that straight couples are entitled to.
Italy still lacks any legal recognition for same-sex couples, but Intesa Sanpaolo, the second largest bank in the nation, announced that it will grant benefits to couples that wed in a country with marriage equality.
According to Gay Star News, the bank said in a press release, “The importance of the agreement serves to reinforce the group’s commitment to politics of non-discrimination and equal opportunity.”
The new policy was applauded by LGBT activists, but is likely to prove highly controversial at a time when Italy is seeing major debates spring up around the topic of gay rights. The cities Grosetto and Naples are the only places within Italy to recognize the relationships of gay couples that married elsewhere, and the mayor of Naples made the announcement in June 2014, only a month previous to Intesa Sanpaolo’s policy change.
Also that month, the Italian Senate said that it will debate allowing civil unions for same-sex couples in September 2014.
Italy has lagged behind much of Europe in supporting LGBT rights, but the tide is slowly beginning to turn. In November 2013, a judge in the city of Bologna granted a gay male couple temporary custody of a three-year-old girl, calling the men a “stable and reliable” family. It was the first case in Italy in which an LGBT couple had been given legal guardianship over a child to whom neither was biologically related. However, at present they are still unable to legally adopt her.
In April 2014, an Italian court ordered that the marriage of a same-sex couple who wed in the United States be legally recognized, a first in the country.
The mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino, once said in an interview that he supports marriage equality because “I believe that if a couple loves each other, they should get married.”