The new law, approved by the Italian Chamber of Deputies on 19 September 2013, has already been renamed “Saving Forza Nuova” – the neo-fascist party responsible for racist and homophobic attacks all over Italy – but it actually bears the name of a Democratic Party Deputy and LGBT activist Ivan Scalfarotto.
The original aim was to pass a law adding homophobia and transphobia to the aggravating circumstances outlined in the 1993 Mancino Law, which outlaws the diffusion of political ideas inciting discrimination and violence and prohibits the use of any symbolism linked to nazi-fascist movements.
An amendment was proposed and has been passed, however, by the Chamber of Deputies which has shocking and wide-ranging implications for Italian civil society. The amendment says that the Mancino Law does not concern “organizations in the fields of politics, unions, culture, health care, education, religion or cults”. The Mancino Law has thus been effectively emasculated and it appears that all organizations are now free to spread discriminating ideas.
The amendment was proposed by Deputy Gregorio Gitti, a member of Scelta Civica (Civic Choice), the center party founded by the former technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti. It was approved by Scalfarotto and by his party (Democratic Party), itself in a state of disarray. There was intense lobbying by Christian and right-wing organizations including Comunione e Liberazione, with links in every Italian institution, and Cardinal Bagnasco, the head of the Italian Episcopal Conference.
This amendment to the law protects those Christian organizations which are so active in hospitals and schools (such as the powerful Comunione e Liberazione), anti-abortion far-right movements (such as Militia Christi ) and neo-fascist organizations (such as Forza Nuova and Casa Pound). The Mancino Law will no longer work as a deterrent, and it has also become ineffective for use against political organizations. Hate crimes are now legal in Italy.
Flavio Romani, President of Arcigay (the LGBT organization close to the center-left) has announced that they will fight against this law with which “Italy takes three steps back. And what’s more, this Parliament has dropped the responsibility for such regression on LGBT communities”.
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