NEWS » "Fidelity" legal changes under consideration

"Fidelity" legal changes under consideration

In the last decades marriage has deeply changed in Western culture. Italy was the last Western European country to allow civil unions between homosexuals. Now the word “fidelity” might not be included in marriage contracts any-more.

Since last February Italian MPs are considering an amendment to article 143 of Italy's civil code which would remove the word "fidelity" from Italian marriage contracts. Infidelity is already quite popular in Italy, according to a 2014 poll, 55 per cent of men and around 33 per cent of women in Italy have been unfaithful to their partners. According to some opinions, removing the fidelity requirement from marriage could be a blow to the family institution. 

The draft law which was presented to the Senate in February this year, has now been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The draft law consists of just one article which could revolution the entire marriage institution. 

The amendment was presented by Laura Cantini, a senator from the ruling Democratic Party, who has described the change as a step forward from what she called the “legacy of an outdated vision of marriage”. A dozen senators have backed the bill considering the promise not to cheat as a cultural legacy from an outdated and obsolete view of marriage, family, and the rights and duties of spouses. According to the senator fidelity should not be thought of only in sexual terms. The obligation to fidelity should be understood not only as sexual fidelity but above all respect and trust in each other. Furthermore, this crucial value should not be imposed by state law.


In May, Italy became the last Western European country to allow civil unions between homosexuals after strong resistance from the Catholic church and conservatives. References to fidelity and faithfulness were removed from the bill despite an outcry from the gay community seeking parity with heterosexual relationships. According to Senator Cantini the amendment was in line with the new idea of civil unions and a sign of personal freedom within marriage.


The draft law referred also to a previous ruling from Italy's highest court, which declared that judges could not legally place the blame for a marriage separation "on the mere failure to observe the duty of fidelity". The other party has to prove that their spouse's infidelity led to the failure of the marriage making the cohabitation impossible.


Italy has come a long way since the “delitto d'onore”, the right to kill an unfaithful wife, memorably portrayed in Pietro Germi's Film “Divorzio all' italiana” (divorce Italian style) 1961, starring Marcello Mastroianni e Stefania Sandrelli.


Giulia Lombardo

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