EMANUELE LOMBARDINI

Italy is the last country in Western Europe that does not yet have a law that protects homophobia. And therefore it is not a country for liberals. Let’s be clear, Italy has a law, of course. But that is no longer enough, in the face of the increase in LGBT couples who are discriminated against – and often even beaten – just for their sexual orientation. An increase that is the result of the hate campaign on which the self-called sovereign right parties has built its electoral fortunes, speaking to the belly of the Italians and awakening the most vulgar racist instincts that basically Italy has always had but of which at least, until a decade ago, he was ashamed.

LGBT rights as a political battle tool

The Italian Senate rejected the new law which had been under discussion for two years and which had laboriously passed the first step in the Chamber of Deputies. The discussion on the articles of the law was rejected by only 23 votes, because those who opposed the law wanted to vote by secret ballot and their request was accepted by the presidency of the Senate.

Italy is not a country for liberals because one of the parties that defines itself as liberal (Forza Italia) sided with the right that did not want this law and asked together with Lega for a secret vote precisely because it knew that there would be those that, without the obligation to put his face on it,  would have voted in dissent from his party. Above all, it would never have stood up to applaud the rejection of the law, together with homophobic parties

At least 15 votes were lacking among the senators of the parties that supported the law: of those, at least 13 certainly voted against. Others preferred not to even come to the Senate, perhaps thinking that their absence would not have weighed on the final bill.

There is no doubt that this law is urgent and necessary. But we have a duty to read it with liberal eyes and this leads us to say that in some parts the text of that law lent itself to non univocal interpretations. Despite this, a Parliament that really cared about civil rights would have had the duty to vote for it: better a perfectible law than no law at all.

If they really had been the will to approve this law, it would have been enough to listen to those liberal forces who had proposed to sit around a table and find an agreement on the controversial points. But the truth is that this law lent itself to being the right tool for a useless muscular battle, a political and ideological battle, which could not contemplate compromises: “Either this or nothing. And those who propose changes are with the right that does not want the law ”. And so now we have to start all over again.

Why a compromise had to be found

One of the controversial points of the law was the point in which the text provided for the safeguarding of freedom of opinion on issues related to the LGBT world, thus even making it possible to do “propaganda” against it, obviously punishing hate speech through verbal expression.

But the boundary between contrary propaganda and incitement to hatred is very thin and cannot be left to the decision of a judge, who can be influenced by his own ideas, in one sense or another. The boundaries had to be clearly defined and this was not foreseen in the law under discussion.

The law was not well written and perhaps it was not even a liberal law: a truly liberal law, for example, would never require the establishment ‘by decree’ of a day dedicated to LGBT issues in all schools; it would limit itself to encouraging its organization, through initiatives, events, conferences, even through economic funding. It can even suggest a day, as the law provided. But it would always leave schools free to choose.

A compromise had to be found and it had to be found while remaining liberals. Enforcing our ideas and the values ​​we believe in. But Italy is not a country for liberals because the parties that define themselves as such are in reality only on the surface. True liberals would never have asked for the introduction of the concept of ‘gender identity’ in schools to be removed from the law, aligning themselves with the more homophobic right.

The position according to which it would not be correct to talk about these topics at school because they are “divisive” or even embarrassing does not hold up in any way, especially in the face of new generations who, fortunately, are now overcoming the prejudices and fences of their parents. A true liberal would have strongly reiterated the need of introducing that concept and would have made proposals to demonstrate that on these issues one can confront free from preconceptions.

Italian liberals have a big problem

In Italy, liberals should try to put aside the differences and unite to become the barrier to the two different populisms that are crushing the country. And instead of this, they are so busy fighting over a jump seat of power that they let a former right-wing parliamentarian with a surname Mussolini and that is the niece of the fascist dictator to wave the flag of LGBT rights, without even asking themselves a question. At a guess, the Italian liberals have a big problem.

LGBT rights in Italy: when a necessary law becomes a political battle
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