URGENT ¥¥¥ Italians more liberal than their governments: study

Italians are more open to liberal laws on divorce, bioethics, abortion and homosexuality than their politicians who are more subject to pressure from the Catholic Church, a report out on Thursday said.

The Eurispes Institute study found that 86.3 percent of Italians are in favour of simplifying the procedure for obtaining a divorce, an increase from 82.2 percent just a year ago.

Legal rights for unmarried couples including gay couples were supported by 77.2 percent of the 1,500 respondents in the study, which was carried out between December 21 and January 4.

The report found 79.4 percent were in favour of assisted reproduction and 63.9 percent said they supported abortion pills.

There were 64.6 percent who supported some forms of euthanasia in extreme cases.

But 63.8 percent said they were against assisted suicide by a doctor.

Italian politicians are hugely divided on these laws, which have evolved in Western countries with Christian traditions.

Pope Benedict XVI and the head of the Italian Catholic Church, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco have repeatedly emphasised that the Church's demands for pro-life legislation are "non-negotiable".