While in Italy the first civil unions are being celebrated, homosexual couples in San Marino remain in fact without rights. Here is the testimony of an Italian girl, Rosa (fictitious name), who secretly lives with her girlfriend, a San Marino citizen, since there are no laws that recognize their union.
How have Italian Civil unions been perceived in San Marino?
While in Italy the Law on Civil unions was discussed and then approved, San Marino’s newspapers, along with different political parties, spoke about the change that Italy was implementing and about the importance for San Marino to stay up to date.
There has been debates about bills, there were surveys, but nothing was achieved in the end. A week later this subject was already forgotten because other issues were considered to be more important. Consequently, the civil unions sank into oblivion despite a survey on a San Marino newspaper (without statistical purposes), which asked if citizens agreed or not with the Civil unions. Note that 78% of voters were in favour of them. [La Tribuna Sammarinese]
What kind of domestic partnership agreements can be stipulated in San Marino?
Here we can just stipulate domestic partnership agreements between two people of opposite sex. In fact in the laws concerning the issue the agreements are always described as “more uxorio” which is means “only for husband and wife” [while in Italy the expression “more uxorio” also includes same-sex couples: Articolo29; ed]. At the moment there are no laws about domestic partnership agreements for same-sex couples, at best there is something about the cohabitation of two San Marino citizens of the same sex, considered as though they were roommates and not a couple.
Do homosexual couples in which one partner is foreigner have further disadvantages?
Yes, the disadvantages are mainly related to the residence permit, since at the moment there are no rights for homosexual couples (which are formed by two San Marino citizens or a person from San Marino and a foreigner). There is a law [Edit of 30 July 2015 Article 15, Paragraph 1, of Law 118/2010: Consiglio Grande e Generale; ed] which provides a residence permit for cohabitation for solidarity purposes and mutual aid, in which is not specified (as in the current law for domestic partnership agreement) if the foreigner must be of the opposite sex or not.
This law is the only loophole two gay people have to cohabit (which is different from having a domestic partnership agreement), if they are not recognized as a couple. It is as if the homosexual couple is forced to “lie” about their relationship and hide behind the solidarity purpose and mutual aid permit, which in addition, in order to implement cohabitation, requires that the citizen of San Marino has adequate housing and earnings for the maintenance of both cohabitants.
Tell us about your situation. Which difficulties are you facing?
Well, it is quite a difficult situation. I live with my partner, but I am not following the rules. We currently live in an apartment that is not big enough to apply for the solidarity purpose and mutual aid permit, and I am not even sure if she earns enough for both of us. Since I do not legally live here I cannot obtain a continuous health care, therefore I can only get access to it as a tourist.
It is very difficult to find a job in San Marino, because they tend to hire San Marino citizens first. If my papers were in order, I could at least apply for a job as a frontier worker. Furthermore, if I were caught during a check, I would be sent abroad. Luckily I have never been discriminated, my partner and I can walk hand in hand and no one has ever said or did anything to us.
What are the future prospects? Is there anyone willing to propose a law?
The future is uncertain, now the government is about to fall so we do not know how it will act on the issue of homosexual couples’ rights. In any case, there have been some suggestions by political parties or associations, but nothing happened in the end. Unfortunately I am not very optimistic, it looks like this issue is not believed to be important enough to be solved.
How may an Italian person support LGBT rights in San Marino?
I think the only way to do that is to talk about San Marino’s situation. There was an LGBT association before, but it is no longer operational. Unfortunately I know very little about it, because the issue is somewhat hidden. San Marino is still not that open-minded, the out same-sex couples are few and generally are formed by young people, who grew up with an open mind.
Would you like to say something to those who happen to be in a situation like yours?
Don’t despair, don’t lose hope that things will get better. You must speak loudly about this and make yourself heard, don’t let anyone forget that we exist and that we have rights. In Italy something finally happened, thanks to those who took to the streets and raised awareness, and although in San Marino the situation is different we have to be hopeful that it will get better.
translation by Ginevra
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