Protestors in 63 Italian cities have come together with 24 organizations to demand LGBT+ people receive protection from violence.
Meanwhile 69,000 people from Italy and all over the world have signed a petition asking the Italian parliament to approve new legislation against homophobia, transphobia and misogyny.
The protests over the last few days have included Italy’s most famous cities, such as Rome, Milan, Naples, Pisa and Palermo.
However, LGBT+ people and their allies have also taken to the streets in smaller towns and cities too, including Agrigento, Pescara and Lecce.
The socially-distanced protests, over a wet and blustery weekend, expressed frustration with Italy’s slow movement on protecting LGBT+ people.
One protestor in Rovigo, in the northeast of the country, summed it up with a sign in English reading: ‘I can’t believe I’m still protesting this shit.’
Unlike other European countries, Italy doesn’t give specific protection on the basis of gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.
The opportunity to pass legislation has arisen multiple times in the last decades. However, politicians have always blocked it.
Now that may change with a proposal extend anti-racism laws to outlaw discrimination and hate crimes against women, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
The proposal arose after multiple attacks on LGBT+ people received widespread publicity. One in particular, that saw a young gay man needing reconstructive facial surgery after an attack in the city of Pescara, provided extra motivation for LGBT+ Italians and their allies.
‘The time has come to fight hatred’
In a big push, LGBT+ organizations have united to support the hate crime legislation. One of those supporting is international digital campaign group AllOut.
Yuri Guaiana, AllOut’s senior campaigns manager in Italy, said:
‘Italy needs an effective law that protects women and LGBT+ people from discrimination and violence. The time has come to fight hatred.
AllOut is currently sending a billboard truck around Rome so politicians also get the message.
Guaiana added: ‘The time has come for Italy to follow the example of other European countries. Time is up: the parliament must approve a serious and effective law now.’
However, the right-wing opposition Lega Nord is opposed. Perhaps even more significant is the opposition of Brothers of Italy – which represents Italian bishops.
Indeed, the bishops said that if the proposal was put into law it would be ‘the death of liberty’.
One priest in Puglia, a region in the south of Italy, even held a vigil to pray for the law’s failure.
Moreover another in Sicily claimed during a sermon: ‘If you express an opinion against homosexuals, or don’t agree with two men adopting a child, you could end up in jail.’
And Jacopo Coghe, president of the conservative Pro Life and Family organization, is mobilizing opposition. Using similar language to anti-LGBT+ bishops and politicians in Poland, he said the law sought to ‘impose a certain culture’.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis – whose record on LGBT+ rights is checkered at best – has remained silent.