Italy split over LGBTQ+ rights

July 21, 2020

By Rachel Badham

A month after a brutal attack left Lorenzo, a young man living in the Italian city of Pescara, needing facial reconstruction, he joined a small demonstration demanding justice. The attack on Lorenzo came as he was walking with his boyfriend holding a rainbow tote bag, and has highlighted the fact that, alongside the coronavirus pandemic, Italy is facing another social crisis.

Since this horrific event, it has been brought to public attention that Italy’s progression towards equal treatment of the LGBTQ+ community has been considerably slower than other European countries. There is currently no legal system in place that protects individuals on the grounds of sexual discrimination, and although new legislation is set to be drafted in the upcoming weeks, homophobia and other forms of prejudice against LGBTQ+ people are still common in the country, with openly gay Lorenzo describing the Italian streets as ‘soaked with prejudice’.

A survey published by Eurobarometer has demonstrated that just over half of the Italian population regard themselves as being ‘comfortable’ with LGBTQ+ people, with the rest stating otherwise. The results of other European countries such as Sweden, show the vast majority support the community. The FT reported that Monica Cirinnà – of the centre-left Democratic party in Italy – attributes Italy’s continuous reluctance to improve social conditions for the LGBTQ+ community in line with other western countries to a ‘deeply rooted patriarchal and catholic culture’ in the region, but insists ‘it’s time to move on’.

As Lorenzo’s attack sparked gatherings of people in Pescara demanding justice for him and for the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, this appears a pivotal moment for LGBTQ+ people in Italy. Far right political groups and religious movements in the country have already spoken out against the potential law change at the end of this month, taking the stance that this new legislature will create further discrimination by making ‘some more equal than others’.

As discussions surrounding LGBTQ+ rights continue to unfold in Italy, it is unclear whether the new laws for protection of the queer community will be officially enforced, however those attending the demonstration in Pescara believe that this amendment is ‘long overdue’.