‘Climate of menace’: LGBTQ+ Italians refuse to be ‘erased’ by far-right government

Italy's new prime minister Giorgia Meloni wears a dark outfit as she stares somewhere off camera

Italy’s new, far-right prime minister is an enemy of LGBTQ+ rights – but the community is ready to mount a resistance.

Prime minister Giorgia Meloni took office in October and has formed the most right-wing government Italy has seen in decades. 

She’s Italy’s first female prime minister. But given her far-right politics, including her rallying against “LBGT lobbies” and so-called “gender ideology”, many have warned her leadership is absolutely anything but a win for women and minority groups.

Mario Colamarino, president of Circolo Mario Mieli, is “very concerned” about the government, a coalition led by Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, which he says “presents itself as centre-right” but should be seen as “extreme right”.

Giorgia Meloni holds up a sign reading 'Grazie Italia'
Giorgia Meloni, leader of far-right party Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy. (Getty)

“Many points of their programme – explicitly or not – lead to the complete erasure of all the conquests made in Italy in the field of basic civil rights,” Colamarino says.

“They clearly deny this accusation, but we have already seen some regional laws focused towards this direction.

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“We are talking about [civil unions], access to abortion, acknowledgement of trans and intersex people identities, recognising of same-sex parents’ children, funding of LGBTQIA+ association like us, prevention and cure of STDs and many many others.”

The status of LGBTQ+ rights in Italy is among the worst in Western European countries, according to IGLA-Europe’s annual ranking of European countries on their LGBTQ+ rights.

The government enacted a civil unions law in 2016 despite opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, which holds great influence in the country.

The bill stopped short of legalising same-sex marriage, and queer couples face great barriers to welcoming children into their families via adoption or surrogacy. 

Giorgia Meloni has denied being homophobic, has vowed that she won’t try to repeal the civil unions law and denied suggestions she might roll back legislation on abortion rights

However, she’s been clear that advancing LGBTQ+ rights is not on her agenda.

Alessia Crocini, president of LGBTQ+ advocacy organisation Rainbow Families (Famiglie Arcobaleno), tells PinkNews that Meloni’s promises on abortion and civil unions are far from “consoling”.

Crocini fears attacks on queer rights are inevitable.

A protester holds a sign that reads: "We want rights not opinions" during a rally in support of the Zan bill, which would have criminalised anti-LGBTQ+ violence and discrimination in Italy
A protester holds a sign that reads: “We want rights not opinions” during a rally in support of the Zan bill, which was opposed by right-wing parties and the Vatican. (Getty)

“We do not expect anything different from the party that asked to censor Peppa Pig on state television for an episode with two mothers – they called it gender propaganda. But my son has two mothers, he goes to school and tells about his family. Will they censor him too?”

Crocini says resistance is “not new to Italians” and hopes this “could be a time to redefine us as a community”. 

“The right wing wants to make us invisible, we reply that they cannot erase our lives or our families,” Crocini says. “Iranian women are teaching us this very well.”

There are fears Meloni’s leadership will trigger a rise in violent hate crimes, which are endemic worldwide and have been linked to the rise of bigoted rhetoric

A bill – named after gay politician Allesandro Zan – that would have criminalised violence against LGBTQ+ people and disabled folks, as well as misogyny, was blocked in 2021 after being boycotted by right-wing groups and an “unprecedented” intervention by the Vatican. 

A booklet on the Brothers of Italy’s website details how the party opposed the hate crime bill because it promoted “gender ideology” – a term used by far-right groups and anti-trans voices to advocate against the LGBTQ+ community.

Colamarino fears “years of political fights” will be “completely lost in four years of a bi-lesbo-trans-homophobic administration”, fostering a “climate of menace and not-so-subtle hostility” towards queer people. 

“We’d like to have an optimistic predisposition, but we fear that the months ahead will be crucial to understand if Italy will become a new Hungary,” Colamarino says. 

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