Backlash from Italy’s LGBT groups as Parliament votes on ‘useless’ gay hate ban

Italian LGBT groups are unsatisfied with a proposed anti-homophobia bill that passed in the lower Chamber of Deputies last night, arguing the bill's freedom of speech protections still allow discriminatory transgressions

Backlash from Italy’s LGBT groups as Parliament votes on ‘useless’ gay hate ban
20 September 2013

Italy’s LGBT groups are saying the new ban on homophobia is ‘hypocritical’.

LGBT rights and ally groups criticized the proposed legislation, which intends to penalize homophobia and transphobia but still protects the ‘opinions expressed within political, cultural or religious organizations,’ allowing groups to continue making homophobic comments.

In a dramatic demonstration, Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) staged a kiss-in during the vote hearing where members turned to members of the same-sex and locked lips, holding signs that read ‘more rights’. The group’s Facebook page revealed the kiss-in was held ‘because a kiss and a hug should not be frightening and we are not afraid’.

According to la Repubblica, the bill passed with a vote 354 in favor and 79 against.

‘Pro-family’ groups and individuals have strongly opposed the bill, saying the legislation would impose their freedom of speech and be used as a Trojan horse to introduce gay marriage to the country. The bill has also been opposed by Catholic legislators who’ve pushed for hundreds of amendments to the original legislation.

As the bill has been approved by various levels of government this year, Italian LGBTs labelled the proposed gay hate ban legislation ‘the worst law ever,’ saying the original bill has been compromised to assuage right-wing party fears the bill would infringe on their right to free speech. The first draft of the bill was approved in October 2012, introduced to Parliament by Anna Paola Concia, a lesbian MP.

Italian journalist Tommaso Cerno told Gay Star News: ‘Discrimination and hate are not opinions which deserve a protection. The insults can not be protected.’

Other Italian gay rights group have called the bill ‘useless’ and ‘dangerous,’ saying the bill is inadequate because it penalizes ‘homophobia’ and ‘transphobia’ not discrimination based on ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’.

LGBT association Arcigay’s president Franco Grillini told Gay Star News: ‘I think that this law is “acqua fresca”, as we say in Italian, that is “fresh water”. It means it is not a real law protecting LGBT people, but it is just appeasing them.’ 

Italy continues to rank as one of the most homophobic countries within the EU.

A recent report from Amnesty International highlighted the country’s failure to implement anti-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation or gender identity. According to the report, attacks committed on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity are not considered hate crimes.

Earlier this year, LGBT students said Italy’s high schools are the worst place to be gay, with 40% of straight students refusing to have gay friends.




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