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Gay politicians prepare for victory in Italy’s elections

Gay politicians prepare for victory in Italy’s elections

At least five openly gay and lesbian Italian politicians are in line to win seats in the next general elections, due on 24 and 25 February, and be part of the Camera and Senato, the lower and the higher chambers of Parliament.

Their victory would significantly strengthen the openly gay presence in the assemblies. The last parliament had only one out politician, Anna Paola Concia in the Camera.

The Italian left-wing parties have a dozen LGBT candidates, but five of them stand a really realistic chance of winning: Partito Democratico’s Concia – who is standing again – Sergio Lo Giudice and Ivan Scalfarotto, and Sinistra Ecologia e Libertà party’s Nichi Vendola and Alessandro Zan.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti’s party, Con Monti per l’Italia, has an openly gay candidate as well: Giuliano Gasparotti. He was chosen to run the next election together with Alessio De Giorgi, online magazine’s founder and owner. But De Giorgi quit the race following a scandal in the Italian media.

Italian right-wing newspapers attacked De Giorgi for being a shareholder of some gay porn websites and a Catholic politician at the same time forcing him to pull out of an election he would likely have won.

Ex Member of Parliament (MP) and former leading LGBT association Arcigay’s president Franco Grillini told Gay Star News: ‘We have five potential winners, but we can’t forget that the LGBT issues are not at the center of the Italian political debate.

‘There has been a sort of hidden pact among the Italian parties to avoid the discussions on LGBT rights, in order to please the Catholic Church. But we have to say that the LGBT movement is not as strong as it was years ago, so it’s our fault as well.

‘The only Italian party which does not avoid the LGBT issues is Sinistra Ecologia e Libertà, they know that the debate on LGBT rights is a debate on everyone’s rights.’

Yesterday (31 January) Sinistra Ecologia e Libertà’s leader and Puglia governor Nichi Vendola said: ‘I’m still in love with my partner and I’m thinking of crowning my love for him in a ceremony in front of my community and family.’

Vendola has been the first openly gay regional governor in Italy.

Commenting on the connections between Italian politics and the Catholic Church, Grillini added: ‘The Vatican’s campaign against LGBT rights and against gay marriage is getting stronger and stronger.

‘But the LGBT Members of Parliament can not think only about same-sex marriage. There are other LGBT issues and their effort should be towards the civil liberties in general.’

Potential winner and former Arcigay’s President Sergio Lo Giudice told Gay Star News: ‘Partito Democratico’s leader Pierluigi Bersani wants to offer a sort of civil partnership. But one of my first steps will be a same-sex marriage bill.

‘LGBT Members of Parliament are going to have a lot of work to do, from the law against discrimination to the gay families’ children’s rights. Another front is that of the law 164: Italian transgenders want their passports and identities changed even if they don’t undergo gender reassignment surgery.

‘But we have to work also in schools. LGBT students are bullied every day, teachers and educators have to know that LGBT boys and girls are very sensitive and under threat.’

In order to give strength to the LGBT Members of Parliament, Lo Giudice proposed ‘an inter-group of gay and lesbian MPs, including gay-friendly politicians.’

A gay candidate is running in Catholic Veneto region as well. Alessandro Zan told Gay Star News: ‘My first aim is to make the Italians respect their Constitution. Our supreme law contains everything, but its rules have been forgotten by the majority of the Italian politicians.

‘The laws against homophobia and transphobia should be the second step. Thirdly, a same-sex marriage law or, at least, a civil partnership law.

‘Italian people are very angry with the politicians. We have lost the contact with the common people and this is why the next Italian Parliament should satisfy the Italians’ needs. The Church is a privately owned association: it can not rule over our politics.’