Gay marriage opponent and Berlusconi fan chosen as equality minister

Italy’s new Under-Secretary of State for Equal Opportunities has been criticized for her statements on transgender and gay issues

Gay marriage opponent and Berlusconi fan chosen as equality minister
03 May 2013

Italy has chosen a woman who opposes gay marriage and doesn’t respect transgender people who don’t go through full gender confirmation surgery as their new Under-Secretary of State for Equal Opportunities.

Michaela Biancofiore was appointed to the role a few hours ago (3 May).

She is previously best known for her transphobic attitudes, her rejection of same-sex marriage equality and her almost devotion to former Italian President Silvio Berlusconi.

She once refused to embrace a lesbian, the usual friendly greeting in Italy, worrying it would be ‘embarrassing’ though has since changed her stance.

Last January, speaking on Klauscondicio, the YouTube talk show of Klaus Davi, Biancofiore made a series of homophobic statements that excited strong reactions from all sides.

She said: ‘I am of the opinion that gay marriage is absolutely not a priority for Italians.

‘When someone is born with a different nature, they will not have an easy life. I consider such people equal to me. There is not simply heterosexuality, but also a diverse sexuality that is today very commonplace. Still, I emphasize my no to gay marriage.’

On trans issues, she is equally outspoken.

She said: ‘Anyone who goes with a trans has serious problems of sexual identity. I understand trans individuals who undergo surgery, but I see no reason why we should agree to marriage between a “man and a man” and “man who wants to pretend to be a woman and keep his male member”. I would rate them more if they underwent the operation.’

She went on to say: ‘These strange mixtures leave me puzzled: either one perceives oneself to be a man or a woman’ and ‘Italians are by temperament opposed to gay marriage because we remain a profoundly Catholic people. Having said that, I have the greatest respect for all forms of love.’

More recently, she spoke apologetically of an incident some years back when she was approached by a woman known to be lesbian. Instead of embracing, as would be normal between Italian women, Biancofiore preferred to shake hands.

This was, she says, an ‘instinctive reaction’ at the time, ‘for a straight to receive a kiss from a gay could have been embarrassing’. However, she claims, she has now changed her mind.

Since her appointment to this post a few hours ago, politicians have been lining up to criticize the decision.

Alessandro Zan, gay rights activist and a deputy for Sinistra Ecologia Liberta (SEL) was one of the first to go on the offensive this morning.

He said: ‘One has to ask what are the politics of Michaela Biancofiore in respect of gay issues. The new under-secretary for equal opportunities – and one of Berlusconi’s most faithful acolytes – seems to be an unfortunate choice for a minister who will be asked to make choices on gay rights.’

Ivan Scalfarotto of the Democratic Party added: ‘I have to say that the name of Michaela Biancofiore as Under-Secretary for Equal Opportunities has taken me absolutely by surprise and has quickly overtaken my satisfaction at seeing Josefa Idem picked for the corresponding ministerial role.’

Scalfarotto’s comments – as well as the selection of Biancofiore – reflect a complex balancing act currently under way as Italy struggles to put together a government combining elements from the center left and right.

The first, – and key – appointment in this area was Josefa Idem, who picked up the joint responsibilities of sport and equal opportunities. As a member of the Democratic Party, Idem is viewed as being well to the left of Biancofiore.

The latter has long been known for her close relationship with Silvio Berlusconi and is decidedly of the right. Whether, as the more junior appointment to this ministry, her views will hold any sway remains to be seen.



No thumbnail available

Spain grants speedy asylum to Russian gay rights advocate

Russian gay and political activist Alexey Kiselyov was granted a fast-track political asylum in Spain for being thereanted with imprisonment over Moscow protests
Google, IBM, Ford and McKinsey attend China’s first job fair aimed at gay community

Google, IBM, Ford and McKinsey attend China’s first job fair aimed at gay community

The Shanghai event attracted several Fortune 500 companies and around 400 LGBT job seekers
No thumbnail available

Former NFL player Wade Davis comes out publicly and is working with LGBT youth

'I got to play in the NFL, and now I get to change the world'
No thumbnail available

Indian activists working to catch child sex exploiters

A group of Indian LGBT activists has been working to entrap the pimps of underage prostitutes who have been using dating websites to tout their services
Brussels is foodie heaven for decadent diners

Brussels is foodie heaven for decadent diners

Europe's political capital is proving there's more to Belgian food than waffles, chocolate, beer and sprouts
No thumbnail available

Actresses cast in new Jennifer Lopez lesbian TV drama

Anti-gay group One Million Moms has already blasted the project, promising to stop the production 'dead in its tracks'
No thumbnail available

CNN's Don Lemon on why he waited until his mid-40s to come out publicly as gay

'I was afraid of people like Phil Robertson, who claim to love everyone while simultaneously thinking that everyone's love isn't equal'
No thumbnail available

French minister says kids must learn gay history

Women's minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said learning about gay historical figures would help stop bullying
No thumbnail available

Portugal passes trans hate crime law

Portugal's parliament has voted to include 'gender identity' as a category of hate crime law
No thumbnail available

Obama fights for gay marriage bill in Illinois

US president returns to Chicago where he was a senator to fight for a marriage equality bill at a fundraising dinner