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This is a huge step for a country that ranks so lowly on LGBTQ equality indexes in Europe.

The tiny nation of San Marino passed a bill yesterday legalising same-sex civil unions, however they are yet to set out a timeframe for when the law will be implemented.

The step is a massive move for a country that only struck down a law that forbade same-sex couples from living together six years ago. Rainbow Europe currently ranks it 44/49 on its LGBTQ Equality Index.

The Grand and General Council, who govern San Marino, started debating the proposed Regulation of Civil Unions on Thursday, and yesterday they passed the motion by 40-4 votes. Four other members abstained from the vote.

There are 14 articles within the new law, with the important one saying: “A civil union is a contract stipulated by two legal adults of the same-sex or of opposite sex in order to organize their life together as a couple.”

Speaking to Gay Star News, Marco Tonti from Acrigay, an Italian political party focused on LGBTQ rights, said: “It is a historic step forward for San Marino since homosexuality had been criminalized until 2004.”

However, despite the passing of the law, Tonti said that he wanted more to be done, adding: “There are still many civil rights missing from the appeal, such as the voluntary termination of pregnancy.”

Earlier this year it was announced that Romania could introduce civil partnerships, however their introduction would come with the backdrop of the government seeking a referendum to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage in the country. However, when the country held the referendum in October, the voter turnout was so low that the result was declared void.

Related: Thailand could be about to introduce civil partnerships for same-sex couples