'Pro-Family' Rally in Rome
Conservative groups are rallying in protest of a proposed law that would allow unmarried couples greater rights, seeing the law as a stepping stone towards a legal acceptance of gay marriage. This issue highlights the unpredictable balance of power in Italian government, as the Prime Minister has allies on both sides of this issue.
Tens of thousands of "pro-family" protesters are rallying in the Italian capital to protest against laws giving more rights to homosexual couples.
The proposed law would allow all unmarried couples greater rights in areas such as inheritance, but stops short of legalising gay marriage.
Hundreds of activists attended a counter-demonstration supporting the law nearby, in Rome's Piazza Navona.
The divisive issue is causing problems for Prime Minister Romano Prodi.
Catholics and Communists from Mr Prodi's coalition attended both rallies, magnifying the same divides that brought down his government in February, says the BBC's Christian Fraser.
'Test of commitment'
People from around the country gathered amid a carnival-like atmosphere for Italy's first "Family Day" rally, at Rome's St John Lateran square.
Music, clowns and games kept children entertained, while older demonstrators listened to speeches by Catholic officials.
"Living together is not family," protester Anna Manara, 58, told Associated Press news agency.
"A commitment such as marriage cements the bond, while other models make it easier to be together and therefore end up making it less valuable."