This week, Italy’s senate voted against a bill that would have made misogyny and violence against LGBTQ+ and disabled people a hate crime.
Rallies were held in dozens of Italian cities last night (28 October) in response to the senate’s rejection of the Zan bill, which would have made violence against LGBTQ people a recognized hate crime.
The 315-member senate voted, on Thursday 27 October, with a 154 to 131 majority to block the debate on Italy’s current law. Lawmakers in the senate clapped and cheered when the bill was voted down.
The Zan bill, which was previously approved by the lower house of parliament despite months of opposition from conservative and Catholic groups, would have made violence against LGBT people and disabled people, as well as misogyny, a hate crime. It proposed to equate anti-LGBT discrimination with racism, and raise sex orientation and gender topics at schools.
Demonstrators took to the streets in Rome and Milan following the controversial vote, which Pina Picierno, a PD member of the European parliament, called “one of the worst pages in the history of the Italian republic”.
According to the far-right parties that voted against the bill in the upper house, the law would have suppressed freedom of expression and promoted “homosexual propaganda” in schools.
Whilst the current ‘Mancino law’ – from 1993 – provides for punishment of discrimination acts on racial, ethnic, national and religious grounds, the new bill would have added acts of discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation, gender identity, sex and disability to the list of offences legally punishable with prison sentences and fines.
“They talked about us for two years and then as if nothing had happened they threw us in the bin”, one protestor told Ruptly, with another adding “Three years ago I was attacked in broad daylight because of my hair color. I spent a month in hospital, it was a brutal homophobic act”.
As a result of the bill being rejected, any similar future proposals along the same protective lines would have to start from scratch, meaning they could take years to come into law.
The M5S leader and former prime minister Giuseppe Conte said: “Those who are rejoicing at this sabotage should explain it to the country”, adding “They wanted to stop the future. They wanted to bring Italy back in history”.
A video of the senate cheering as the bill was rejected is below.
This is Italy’s Senate CHEERING after #DDLZAN, a law that could have protected LGBTQ+ people, women, people with disabilities and pretty much any minority from hate crimes, had been pushed back and blocked.— marilea | 𝙢𝙚𝙬’𝙨 𝙨𝙥𝙖𝙘𝙚 𝙘𝙧𝙚𝙬 🚀 (@thursday2102) October 27, 2021
I’m ashamed and scared.