The city council has voted against the creation of a register for unmarried cohabiting couples in Rome. The proposal, presented by the radical left, was rejected by the centre-right opposition and the recently created Partito Democratico (PD) of the centre-left. The PD opposed the motion on the grounds that it is not within the competence of city councils to legislate on behalf of de facto couples.

The council has also rejected a second proposal urging parliament to pass long-awaited legislation granting some rights to cohabiting couples. Presented by the PD, this motion was opposed by the centre-right and other left-wing parties. Rome mayor and leader of the PD Walter Veltroni was not present for either vote.

In reality a register of de facto unions would be of greater symbolic than practical value for cohabiting couples, who currently have no protection under Italian law.

Earlier this year the government produced a bill giving legal recognition to unmarried gay and heterosexual couples but the proposal was abandoned amid strong opposition from the centre-right and the Roman Catholic Church.

There are an estimated 500,000 de facto couples in Italy.