(ROME) -- Some call it a baby step in the direction of equal rights for gay families in Italy.
A judge in the northern city of Bologna has given a male gay couple temporary custody of a three-year-old girl. This is the first case in which a gay or lesbian couple has been given legal guardianship of a child not biologically theirs.
In a country long dominated by the Catholic Church, the judge's decision is a controversial one. The local prosecutor says he will launch an appeal based on his opinion that both men, who are fully employed and have apparently bonded with the girl, may not have the abilities to care for the child.
In Italy, gay couples are legally not permitted to adopt, although for foster care the rules are more lenient, with allowances for a "family community," to temporarily care for the child.
While many other European countries have legalized gay marriage and adoption, Italian gays and lesbians are still struggling to have their unions and right to adopt legally recognized.
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