Italy’s far-right leader Giorgia Meloni calls Justin Trudeau ‘victim of fake news’ over LGBTQ+ criticism

Justin Trudeau Giorgia Meloni

The far-right premier of Italy, Giorgia Meloni, has dismissed Canadian leader Justin Trudeau’s attempt to call out the Italian government’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights, saying he is “the victim of fake news”.

Meloni and Trudeau spoke at the 49th annual G7 summit, which ran from 19 to 21 May, and saw leaders from the G7 member states – the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK and Japan – come together to coordinate global policy. 

Held in Hiroshima, Japan, it provided an opportunity for Trudeau to hold the Italian government to account for its anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and legislative direction. 

British prime minister Rishi Sunak was also urged to use the G7 summit to champion LGBTQ+ equality and advocate for same-sex marriage. Host country Japan is the only member of the G7 that currently doesn’t recognise equal unions. 

Italian premier Giorgia Meloni and UK prime minister Rishi Sunak arrive for the family photo at the Itsukushima Shrine during the G7 Summit on 19 May 2023 in Hiroshima, Japan. (Stefan Rousseau – Pool/Getty Images)

At a bilateral meeting on Thursday (18 May), Trudeau told Meloni that Canada is “concerned” about Italy’s position on LGBTQ+ rights. Before journalists were invited to leave the room, Trudeau said: “Obviously, Canada is concerned about some of the (positions) that Italy is taking in terms of LGBT rights. But I look forward to talking with you about that.”

Meloni is Italy’s first female prime minister and the first far-right leader in Italy since the Second World War. Since her election in October 2022, Meloni has vowed to combat what she calls “gender ideology” and the “LGBT lobby”.

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March saw the Italian government introduce a bill criminalising couples who travel abroad to have a baby via surrogacy, a move that has been slammed as an attack on LGBTQ+ couples seeking to become parents. 

In Italy, surrogate pregnancies are illegal and although the country legalised same-sex unions in 2016, same-sex couples do not have adoption rights. 

In the same month, the government also demanded that councils stop automatically registering children who have two mothers or two fathers. Italy currently has no formal protections for same-sex parents. 

A summary of Trudeau and Meloni’s meeting, provided by Canada’s prime ministerial office, states that the leaders “exchanged views on the importance of protecting and defending human rights, including the rights of 2SLGBTQI+ people” and “prime minister Meloni responded that her government is following court decisions and is not deviating from previous administrations”.

However, before leaving Japan, Meloni spoke to reporters about Trudeau holding her to account on LGBTQ+ rights and accused him of being the “victim of fake news”. 

Meloni said that Trudeau was a “bit rash” in his comments, and that he “probably understood” that what is written about her isn’t reality, BNN Bloomberg reported

She also said that she has not altered existing legislation on LGBTQ+ issues in Italy.