Vincenzo Spadafora, an Italian lawmaker and former government minister, came out as gay over the weekend during a live television appearance.
Spadafora, a member of the populist, anti-establishment Movimento 5 Stelle (MS5) party, appeared on Rai 3 talk show Che Tempo Che Fa on Nov. 7.
While promoting his upcoming book, the 47-year-old said he had a responsibility to be public about his sexuality.
“I think that people’s private lives should remain that way, but I also think those with a public role, a political role like mine have some more responsibility,” Spadafora said.
“And I did it for myself too, because I learned perhaps too late that it is important to love and respect each other.”
Spadafora said one of his reasons for opting to come out was “very political, to testify to my political commitment, for all those who fight for their rights every day and have less opportunity to do so than I have thanks to my role.”
He also wanted to show that, as a Catholic, his sexuality wasn’t “in contradiction” with his religious beliefs. However, he expects backlash from many in Italy for that contention.
Spadafora also expects backlash generally for coming out publicly, making him one of few prominent Italian lawmakers to do so.
“In politics, homosexuality is used to hurt, to attack an opponent, something I now want to avoid,” he said.
“I hope to be considered for what I do, for what I am, and from tomorrow on maybe I’ll be happier because I feel freer.”
"Chi ha un ruolo pubblico politico come il mio in questo momento ha delle responsabilità in più. Ho imparato forse troppo tardi che è importante volersi bene e rispettarsi. Volevo anche spegnere questo brusio, da domani sarò felice perché più libero" @vinspadafora a #CTCF pic.twitter.com/yKmtHvPTlZ
— Che Tempo Che Fa (@chetempochefa) November 7, 2021
Spadafora’s announcement comes after the Italian senate last month rejected a bill that would have criminalized violence against LGBTQ people, following opposition from far-right politicians and the Vatican.
LGBTQ rights are something of a mixed bag in Italy. Gay people are allowed to serve openly in the military and can form civil unions, while transgender people can legally change their gender.
However, same-sex marriage is still illegal, unlike many of Italy’s European neighbors, and while LGBTQ people are protected against employment discrimination they are afforded no other national legal protections — although a few regional nondiscrimination laws exist.
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