Italian Catholic bishops are challenging proposed legislation drafted to protect LGBT+ people from discrimination on the grounds that it would make “a crime of opinion”.
On June 10, the administration of the Italian bishops’ conference released a statement against the necessity for laws banning discrimination against LGBT+ people. They also claim to implement legal penalties to enforce this legislation will infringe upon freedom of speech.
The bishops wrote, “Rather than punishing discrimination — it would end up striking the expression of a legitimate opinion, as learned by the experience of the legal systems of other nations in which similar internal regulations have already been introduced.”
In the statement, the bishop’s voiced their grievances with a bill that finds people “who believe a family requires a dad and a mum” guilty of “a crime of opinion”. They further wrote, “There is no need for mutual controversy or ostracism on this, but availability for an authentic and intellectually honest discussion. To the extent that this dialogue takes place in freedom, both respect for the person and the democracy of the country will benefit.”
A proposed bill banning discrimination based upon sexuality and gender identity was introduced to the Senate in 2014. However, it has continuously been blocked by conservative parties and religious groups.
When the bill was initially announced, a conservative Catholic group, titled the Standing Sentinels, vehemently opposed it. Their spokesman Pietro Invernizzi claimed, “In Italy, there is no homophobia emergency.”
In 2016, the Civil Unions Bill went into effect, ensuring some legal protection and recognition to same-sex couples. Three years on from this historic moment, LGBT+ activists highlighted how the social and political landscape has become hostile for the community.
Senator Monica Cirinnà expressed, “Today, Italy is moving backwards. Our country has plunged into a regressive climate, with a majority that considers diversity a negative value, while we used to value that as a positive thing.”
The Senator further stated, “Today diversity is seen as an enemy. Something which must be silenced and hidden, and this applies to homosexuals as well as to women, immigrants and disabled people. Not a single legislative act has been issued to protect these minorities.”
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