Tens of thousands have taken to the streets of Rome for the city’s annual Gay Pride parade and to call on the Italian government to recognise civil unions for same-sex couples.
The Saturday march was held in a party atmosphere, with bright lights and rainbow flags adorning the Via del Corso in the centre of the city.
Ignazio Marino, Rome’s left-wing mayor, opened the procession by repeating his campaign promise to pass legislation allowing civil unions for gay couples.
“We need to put pressure on parliament so Italy can overcome the shame of lagging behind the rest of the European Union,” Marino said.
It was the second time a mayor has attended the event. Francesco Rutelli, also of the centre-left, took part in 1994, the first year the march was held in Rome.
Although polls find that a majority of Italians are in favour of civil unions for gay couples, Italy has lagged behind its European neighbours in part because of the influence of the powerful Catholic Church.
LGBT activists described as “historic” a recent decision by a court in the Tuscan city of Grosseto recognising the marriage of two Italian men who tied the knot in New York.