Analysis. The vote ‘certifies that Italy is now a part of a Visegrad of civil rights.’ Much of the European right split on the issue, showing that anti-LGBTQI politics are becoming intolerable.

For EU Parliament, Italy is like Hungary on civil rights

Italy, Hungary, and Poland are Europe’s black sheep regarding the rights and respect afforded to LGBTQI people. This is the case with their current “influential political leaders and governments,” who are spreading “anti-rights, anti-gender and anti-LGBTQI rhetoric,” according to the words of an amendment submitted by the Greens in the resolution calling for the universal decriminalization of homosexuality, passed in light of recent developments in Uganda.

The resolution voiced “strong condemnation” of the law introducing the death penalty, life imprisonment and jail terms of more than 20 years for homosexuality-related crimes in Uganda, and of the “hate rhetoric” of Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni.

The European Parliament also voted on the text of the amendment submitted by Kim Van Sparrentak on behalf of the Verts/Ale Group and Malin Björk on behalf of the Left group, passed by a show of hands with 282 votes in favor, 235 against, and 10 abstentions, which added to the resolution’s text, under Paragraph 19, that the European Parliament: “is worried about the current global anti-rights, anti-gender and anti-LGBTIQ rhetoric movements, which are fueled by some political and religious leaders around the world, including within the EU; believes that these movements dramatically hinder efforts to achieve the universal decriminalization of homosexuality and transgender identity, as they legitimize the rhetoric that claims LGBTIQ people are an ideology rather than human beings; strongly condemns the spread of such rhetoric by some influential political leaders and governments in the EU, such as in Hungary, Poland and Italy.”

The EPP (to which Fidesz, Orban’s party, also belonged until two years ago) called for a separate vote on the condemnation of the three countries, but failed to prevent Budapest, Warsaw and Rome from all being included among the list of problems faced by EU member states, which the resolution urges to mobilize within and outside the continent to achieve “an EU strategy for the universal decriminalization of homosexuality and transgender identity.”

At the final vote, the entire resolution passed with 416 votes in favor, 62 against (most from ECR, the group including Vox and FdI, and Identity and Democracy, to which the Lega and Marine Le Pen’s party belong) and 36 abstentions. A minority of the EPP also didn’t vote in favor, with some parliamentarians abstaining, such as the FI’s Alessandra Mussolini and Isabella Adinolfi, and others voting “no,” such as Massimiliano Salini and Lucia Vuolo, also from the FI.

The EPP took a position to vote against the amendment condemning Italy in particular, because it was “unrelated” to the urgent purpose at hand. Indeed, the 235 “No” votes against that text, which lumps the Meloni government in with that of Viktor Orban in the area of LGBTQI rights and hate speech, show a split across the “von der Leyen majority.”

“This vote, with the right-wingers divided, tells us that despite the retrograde propaganda they engage in, even the right-wing parties are beginning to understand that certain positions are not tolerable,” said Green MEP Ignazio Corrao. “As an Italian, I am ashamed that among those who voted against (and thus in favor of homosexuality being criminalized) we find members of the parties that are in government in Italy.”

For Italy’s radical right-wingers (and others), on the other hand, this is all “scandalous” and “a disgrace” to be lumped in with Uganda, as the Lega and FdI protested. For example, ECR MEP Chiara Gemma, from the FdI, stressed “our strongest and fullest condemnation” of the Ugandan law, but ultimately voted against the resolution, because, she says, the amendment was an attack on the Italian government that “violates any rule of common sense and objectivity. The facts prove that the daily work of our government has never favored any discrimination based on sexual inclination.”

“But do they really think no one in Europe has noticed in recent years that one of the obsessions of the Italian right wing has been, and still is, attacking the LGBT world?” was the response of Italian Left secretary Nicola Fratoianni.

For Arcigay and all Italian LGBTQI NGOs, on the other hand, it’s “very, very concerning,” but not surprising at all, that the European Parliament has listed Italy alongside Hungary and Poland: “It’s enough to think about the numerous statements made by the Equal Opportunities Minister, Eugenia Roccella,” recalled Arcigay secretary Piazzoni. The NGOs urged that this would be a good moment for a general reflection on the part of the government.

For the M5S vice-president of the Senate’s EU Policy Commission, Dolores Bevilacqua, the Strasbourg vote “certifies that Italy is now a part of a Visegrad of civil rights.”

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