Donatella Versace speaks out in support of trans people and against anti-LGBTQ+ laws in Italy

Donatella Versace

Fashion designer Donatella Versace has been labelled an icon after she criticised Italy’s move to strip the names of non-gestational lesbian mothers from their children’s birth certificates.

On Sunday (24 September) at the CNMI Sustainable Fashion Awards, during Milan Fashion Week, Versace used her speech to condemn the right-wing government, and show her support for the trans community.

As she accepted the humanitarian award for equity and inclusivity, alongside by Italian left-wing politician and LGBTQ+ activist Alessandro Zan, she spoke passionately about the need to fight for freedom.  

“Our government is trying to take away people’s rights to live as they wish, they are restricting our freedoms,” she said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The government has stripped people of the freedom to build a family, love who they want and live as they wish, Versace added.

“At a time when transgender people still suffer terrible violence, at a time when children of same-sex couples are not considered their children, at a time when minority voices are being attacked by new laws… we still have a lot to do.”

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The audience responded with rapturous applause, and, speaking to Zan, she said: “Your voice is critical in our world, and I am here to support all that you fight for.”

‘I fight for freedom, equity and inclusiveness every day’

Accepting her award from Italian pop star Marco Mengoni, who called her “a gay icon,” Versace spoke about her fashion legend brother Gianni – murdered by serial killer Andrew Cunanan in July 1997 – who came out to her as gay aged 11.

“For me this changed nothing. I loved him, and I didn’t care who he loved,” she said. “His love and encouragement made me who I am.

“Marco said I am a queer icon [and] I am very proud of that. I fight for freedom, equity and inclusiveness every day. 

“I built my chosen family with unconditional love. My friends and my team are not defined by race, religion, age, gender or sexual orientation, but by creativity, openness, joy and kindness – values that matter. 

“If we were all more welcoming and understanding of one another, what an extraordinary world it would be.”

Her speech follows right-wing populist PM Giorgia Meloni’s announcement in March that state agencies should no longer register the children of same-sex couples.

Lesbian mums have been left devastated, with one telling PinkNews in July: “We don’t want to live in fear”. 

The policy sparked outrage across the world, with activists gathering outside London’s Italian embassy in August at a Lesbians Are Mothers Too protest.

Under Meloni, the Italian government has also extended a national ban on surrogacy for same-sex couples, with anyone found guilty of breaking the law facing possible prison terms of up to two years and a fine of up to one million euros (£870,000; $1.05 million), according to Reuters.