Annual Review 2011
Bias motivated violence
- In April, the openly lesbian Member of Parliament, Paola Concia, and her partner were subject to homophobic abuse whilst shopping in central Rome. A man shouted “F**king lesbians, they should have sent you to the ovens!” at the couple, and only two people came to their defence.
- The same Member of Parliament tried to get an anti-homophobia bill passed in Parliament but had so far been unsuccessful. In July, the Parliament refused to adopt a draft bill on homophobic and transphobic crimes, basing its rejection on a claim that the legislation was incompatible with the Italian Constitution.
February saw the inclusion of the lesbian community in the work of feminist movement If not now, when? An event aimed at demanding respect for women and an end to the machismo was jointly organised with ArciLesbica.
The first Italian children’s books publishing house to print books about LGBT families, Lo Stampatello, estimates that there are up to 100,000 children of LGBT parents in Italy, mostly children from previous heterosexual relationships. The books it publishes include stories relevant to them and their parent-child relationships. The publishing house also considers it important for children of heterosexual parents to understand their friends’ family situations, and that gay is not an insult despite prevalent negative attitudes in Italy.
- Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reiterated his strong opposition to marriage equality and the entitlement for adoption by same-sex couples promising neither would be possible as long as his People of Freedom Party (PdL) was in power.
- Despite the decision of the Constitutional Court, which in 2010 ruled that the Parliament is the institution which should decide on how to recognise same-sex couples and their families, no progress has been registered in Parliament.
- The 2011 census included a question on same-sex unions for the first time.
Freedom of assembly
Rome was the host for EuroPride which was attended by hundreds of thousands of marchers. EuroPride is held in a diff erent European city each year, and the 2011 Rome event featured a special appearance and political speech by pop artist Lady Gaga. The Roman Catholic Church and the country’s political administration, both of which regularly adopt positions opposing LGBT equality, were the focus of marchers’ protest.
Freedom of expression
- In spring, IKEA (a Swedish furniture company) launched an advertising campaign featuring two men holding hands and the slogan We are open to all families. The advertisement was attacked by the Secretary of State for Family Policy who claimed that it was “[...] in direct opposition to [the] constitution which says that family is founded on a marriage.” LGBT human rights defenders criticised the Minister and other government officials for encouraging homophobia.
- In Milan, the book Piccolo Uovo portraying two same-sex families was targeted by a right wing party which threatened to publicly burn it. A councillor of the right wing PdL asked to prevent it from being distributed to public libraries and school.
Participation in public/political life
- The annual ILGA-Europe conference took place in Turin in October, and received the support of the Italian Senate, the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament, the Minister for Equal Opportunities, the Municipality of Turin, the Province of Turin and Esperienza Italia 150º. The conference also received a message of support from Giorgio Napolitano, the President of Italy.
- Nichi Vendola, the openly gay governor of the southern region of Puglia, enjoyed increasing levels of popularity across Italy. He built his base, largely among Italian youth by using social media and online tools such as blogging, Twitter and Facebook. Vendola, who is Catholic and a former communist, stated that he wants to unify Italy’s diff erent interests and groups.
Sexual and reproductive rights
In July, the Court of First Instance of Rome reaffirmed a decision that sterilisation is not a mandatory requirement for gender reassignment, countering the prevailing interpretation of the law in the country. This decision is final and cannot be appealed. It is of particular significance because of the high number of requests for gender reassignment which are fi led with this particular Court.