Italy celebrates three years of civil unions but activists warn: LGBT+ rights are in danger

Three years ago, Italy passed its first same-sex couples civil unions bill but activists warn as the country "regresses'.

Two men wearing rainbow flags kiss in celebration of civil unions passing in Italy

Three years ago, the historic Civil Unions Bill became effective in Italy, giving some legal recognition and protection to same-sex couples.

The bill, which came about after the European Court of Human Rights found Italy in breach of human rights laws, was approved on May 11 2016, when a confidence vote passed it by 369-193. It was signed into law by Italy’s President on May 20, becoming effective on June 5, 2016.

Until then, Italy was the only country in Western Europe which didn’t recognise same-sex partnerships.

While LGBT+ activists celebrated this as a victory, the signed version of the bill was considered by many a watered down version of the proposed legislation as many points, including same-sex parenting and adoption, were scrapped to attempt to appease Italy’s strong Catholic opposition.

The bill passed following a massive campaign which included an All Out petition and several mobilisations, with hundreds of thousands demonstrating in cities across Italy, demanding the Italian Senate to vote ‘yes’.

Similar demonstrations were held in solidarity in many countries across Europe and worldwide, including in Dublin.

Since the bill was signed into law, an estimated 10,000 have registered for civil unions.

The Senator who first drafted the bill, Monica Cirinnà, took to social media to share her thoughts on the anniversary: “Three years ago the Civil Unions Bill passed, allowing 10,000 couples to celebrate their love.”

“Things have changed since then,” the Senator continued “With the current far-right regressive government, homophobia is on the rise and even M5S (5 Stars Movement party) hasn’t taken any stance on LGBT+ rights .” Her thoughts were shared with the hashtag #ResisterePerEsistere (Resist To Exist).

During a recent interview, Cirinnà has also expressed her concerns for the country’s current political and social climate: “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.

“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.

Monica Cirinnà, the Senator who first drafted the civil unions bill

“Unfortunately, acts of homophobia, racism and violence against women are increasing at an alarming rate, without any plans from the Government to act on them. This is what happens when we have bullies in the government. This is what happens when the government is lead by a bully, the ‘Minister of Hell’ as I like to call him (Matteo Salvini, Italy’s Minister of Internal Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister).

“Today, we are in a different Italy in which we would have struggled much more to approve not only the Civil Unions Bill but also other important measures such as the Divorce Bill. We have a Minister who waves the rosary and then behaves the opposite of what his religion preaches.

“When we talk about rights it is always an emergency because we are talking about the dignity of people. “

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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