Since divorce was made legal in Italy just over a year ago, a Church led backlash has been gathering increasing momentum.
Since divorce was made legal in Italy just over a year ago, a Church led backlash has been gathering increasing momentum. This week, the country's Constitutional Court is scheduled to go into session to decide when and if a nationwide referendum is to be held on the future of the divorce laws -- and the current government crisis could well hang on the result.
Italy's centre-left coalition has virtually collapsed due to the withdrawal of the Republicans. Now the Socialists are demanding that, before the join any similar coalition in the future, their Christian democrat partners should help sabotage the anti-divorce referendum. It seems an impossible demand. The Roman Catholic Christian Democrats have been active in supporting the anti-divorce movement.
But the Constitutional Court has the power to take the heat out of the crisis. It could decide that the call for a divorce referendum violates the constitution. The court has 30 days to publish a ruling one way or another.
Campaigners opposing divorce last summer compiled a petition containing 1.3 million signatures. Under Italian law, only half a million signatures are required for a referendum to be held -- and a referendum on divorce would be the first since italians rejected the monarchy in 1946. But so far the electorate has never been called on to reverse a Parliamentary decision at a national ballot.
This library compilation traces the recent progress of the divorce controversy in Italy. It starts with coverage of the campaign in favour of divorce, led by Socialist Deputy Loris Fortune, one of the co-sponsors of the 1970 Divorce Bill. There is also footage of some of the celebrities affected by Italy's attitude to divorce: opera star Maria Callas, who got one of the first divorces to be issued last year; and film producer Carlo Ponti, husband of Sophia Lore, who before the new law was introduced took French citizenship to clear himself of bigamy charges in Italy. The concluding sequences show the collection of signature and the presentation of the anti-divorce petition last year.