Demonstrators took to the streets in Rome and Milan, following Italy’s Senate vote on an anti-homophobia bill. This bill would have anti-LGBT Discrimination equated to racism. It also proposed raising sex and gender topics in schools.
The controversial document, known as the ‘Zan bill’ after its initiator, Italy’s center-left MP and LGBT rights activist Alessandro Zan, was rejected by 154 votes in the Senate on Wednesday, while 131 members voted in favor. It was first introduced to the lower chamber of parliament in May 2018. The bill passed the House of Representatives in November last year, but it faced difficulties in the Senate. The proposed law will not be discussed by Parliament again for six months. This leaves very little time to approve it before its expiration. “This bill has been killed,” senator Dario Parrini told Reuters.
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“After two years of talking about us, they finally tossed us into the trash as though nothing had ever happened.,” a protester in the streets of Rome told RT’s video agency Ruptly on Thursday. “However, it’s always better to be able to accept a less-expressive text.,” she added.
After the bill sparked heated debate between conservatives and liberals, opponents offered amendments to its original document. Italy’s Lega Nord leader and former interior minister Matteo Salvini said the pro-bill politicians’ refusal to dialogue turned the legislation into “Many years of meaningless discussions.” Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and Labor Minister Andrea Orlando called the Senate’s decision a “Disgrace.”
“The scam was apparent to us.,” a protester in the Italian capital told Ruptly, adding that her companions will “Fight for your rights.”
If passed, the bill would have added new categories to Italy’s penal code section that specifically outlaws hate crimes and discrimination. The current ‘Mancino law’ from 1993 provides for punishment of discrimination acts on racial, ethnic, national and religious grounds. New legislation would have included acts of discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and disability to the legal list of offenses punishable by prison sentences or fines.
“My hair color was the reason I was attacked three years ago in broad daylight. It was an extremely homophobic attack that cost me a month of my time in the hospital.,” the bill’s supporter in Milan told Ruptly, adding that Italian forces decrying such acts of violence don’t get enough support from other political parties.
The legislation is largely seen as an attempt to combat homophobia and ban anti-LGBT violent violence. However, it has been criticised for possible interference with freedoms of expression and gay propaganda in Catholic schools.
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The bill, which sought to increase awareness about sex and gender-related issues in public institutions (including those for minors) and recognize the International Day Against Homophobia Biphobia and Transphobia was rebuffed by right-leaning politicians and the Vatican. This bill was also criticized by the Vatican who lodged a formal diplomatic complaint. They suggested that it may violate Catholics’ freedom to think and could lead to prosecution for those who advocate traditional heterosexual families.
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