Italy suddenly advanced to the threshold of the standards of the European Union in the protection of the rights of the LGTBI collective. The Chamber of Deputies approved the bill against transphobia and homophobia a year ago. A rule that raised a great deal of dust on the far right and in the Catholic Church. Even the Vatican, in an interference such as was not remembered in Italy, came out against it, providing a valuable moral alibi to its detractors. The Senate process was missing. But on Wednesday, a far-right parliamentary strategy in that chamber, which promoted a motion that had to be resolved by secret ballot, overthrew the bill. Now its processing must begin from the beginning, but given the volatility of the parliamentary majorities and the time that remains until the legislature ends, it can be considered virtually dead.
The actual numbers to pass the vote were unclear. In theory his supporters were the majority. But the secret vote imposed by the far right opened the ban for the so-called snipers – free members of parties, such as Forza Italia – who this time voted against it. But also from Italia Viva, Matteo Renzi’s party (who was in Saudi Arabia yesterday and did not even appear for the vote) and even from the Catholic sector of the Democratic Party. The final result was 154 votes in favor of blocking the law and 131 against. “A political pact that wanted a step of civility for the country has been betrayed”, denounced in his networks Alessandro Zan, the Social Democratic deputy promoter of the norm.
The bill, however, raised some doubts also of a legal nature among the ranks of the party that had promoted it. Some of its defenders did so out of ideological vocation and social necessity. Also because Italy is one of the most backward countries in the rights of the LGTBI collective. Along with Switzerland, it remains the only country in Western Europe where gay couples are still unable to marry or adopt jointly. Until now, in addition, hate crimes were only related to racial or religious issues, and it was essential to advance on this path. The project extended them to “discrimination and violence based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.” Advancement was necessary. But many of its advocates also privately acknowledged that the exposure draft had many technical aspects for improvement.
The role of the Vatican
The opposition started from the extreme right and was supported in an unusual gesture by the Vatican itself. The Secretary for Relations with the States of the Holy See, Paul Richard Gallagher, presented a formal communication last June at the Italian Embassy to the Holy See in which he stated that “some current contents of the legislative proposal that is being examined in the Senate reduce the freedom guaranteed to the Catholic Church by article 2, paragraphs 1 and 3 of the agreement to review the Concordat ”. Specifically, the Vatican protested against the provision that provided that private Catholic schools would not be exempt from organizing activities during the future National Day against Homophobia. The Holy See also considered that the bill attacked the freedom of thought of Catholics and expressed its fear of the possible legal consequences.
One of the most controversial issues was the concept of gender identity, collected as “a perceived and manifest definition of oneself in relation to gender, although it does not correspond to sex and regardless of whether the transition has been completed.” The obligation to debate this issue in schools and to celebrate the day against transphobia and homophobia ended up stirring the spirits of the Catholic world.
The leader of the League, Matteo Salvini, celebrated on Wednesday “a defeat to arrogance” of the secretary of the PD, Enrico Letta, and the Five Star Movement (M5S), by ensuring that these two parties ―the first promoter of the law and the second support – they had rejected all the amendment and negotiation proposals “including those made by the Holy Father, associations and many families.” The current Foreign Minister and one of the exponents of the M5S, Luigi Di Maio, considered it “shameful” that the law has been “swept away in the secret of the ballot box.” And Letta called for hope against those who “have wanted to stop everything” and turn the country back: “The country is on the other side and it will soon be seen,” he challenged.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.