LGBTQ rights in Italy could come under fire following far-right leader Giorgia Meloni’s victory in Italy’s snap election.
Meloni leads the party Fratelli d’Italia, or Brothers of Italy, which has roots in the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement, which was formed by the supporters of former dictator Benito Mussolini following World War II.
Meloni will likely become Italy’s first woman prime minister after right-wing parties won 44% of the vote in the Sept. 25 election. Meloni has scattered homophobic and transphobic statements throughout her campaign, although according to Xtra Magazine, she reportedly claimed she won’t roll back what limited rights LGBTQ people currently enjoy in the country.
Following her victory, Human Rights Watch expressed concern about her victory in a statement Wednesday.
“In addition to voicing opposition to same-sex marriage and adoptions by gay couples, Meloni called for a ban on ‘sex education’ in school programs and for LGBT families not to be featured in children’s cartoons,” HRW researcher Giulia Tranchina wrote. “If Meloni truly intends to govern ‘for everyone,’ her coalition cannot pick which groups deserve protection and which do not.”
At one rally in Marbella, Spain, in June, Meloni played up her loyalty to traditional family structures:
“Yes to natural families, no to the LGBT lobby, yes to sexual identity, no to gender ideology, yes to the culture of life, no to the abyss of death,” she declared.
Meanwhile, Federico Mollicone, cultural spokesperson for the Brothers of Italy, said in a Sept. 22 television interview with San Marino RTV that same-sex parenting isn’t normal. He railed against an episode of the children’s show Peppa Pig that features a bear with two mothers.
“It is a very serious issue,” Mollicone said, according to Reuters. “As long as the Italian state does not legislate on these couples, presenting them as something absolutely normal is wrong, because it is not.”
Mollicone also claimed “homosexual couples” are illegal in Italy, but in fact, the country has recognized same-sex civil unions since 2016. However, at the time, the Brothers of Italy opposed the effort to legalize such unions.
After facing criticism, Mollicone said he was referring only to gay couples who adopt and also claimed the party “is against all discrimination,” Reuters said.
In conversation with NBC, two LGBTQ Italians said they feared for their safety in the wake of Meloni’s election.
Based on statistics compiled by Italian LGBTQ group Arcigay, over 100 hate crimes or instances of discrimination occur each year in Italy. Last year, the Italian Senate failed to pass a bill criminalizing hate speech and violence against LGBTQ people. After a vote blocking the bill passed, right-wing members of Parliament stood and cheered, Politico reported.
Even though LGBTQ rights like same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption are illegal in Italy, a majority of Italians support them, according to a 2021 Ipsos poll.
In the poll, 63% of respondents said same sex couples should be legally allowed to marry. An additional 20% said same-sex couples should be able to receive some other kind of legal recognition short of marriage. Moreover, 59% of Italian respondents said they thought same-sex couples should have the same adoption rights as heterosexual couples.
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