Italy’s most prominent political party, the Five Star Movement (M5S), protested against the country’s lack of substantial rights for its LGBT citizens with a kiss-in during a parliamentary debate. The protest on September 19 was held as a bill meant to prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination, but decried by many as inadequate, was approved by the parliament’s lower house with a 354 to 79 vote.
“Mr. President (of the House of Deputies), beyond the thousands of excuses and quibbles, we’re talking here of matters of the heart, of feelings, of emotions. Because a kiss and a hug have not and will never hurt anyone,” said Silvia Giordano, a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, during the hearing. “In fact, they are part of what contributes most to making us human. We want to make that clear. And so we’re going to pull back the veil and to demonstrate that there is truly nothing to be afraid of. And we, Mr. President, are not afraid.”
In Italy, LGBT citizens can’t get married, nor are there alternatives allowing LGBT couples to share rights to inheritance, social security and property. During the protest, several members of M5S held signs that called for “more rights” for Italian LGBT citizens.
While the bill has passed the lower house, it still needs to pass the Italian senate before becoming fully legal.
Reported by Gay Star News, several LGBT advocacy groups are against the bill because it “intends to penalize homophobia and transphobia but still protects the ‘opinions expressed within political, cultural or religious organizations,’ allowing groups to continue making homophobic comments.”
“I think that this law is ‘acqua fresca,’ as we say in Italian, that is ‘fresh water,’” said the president of the LGBT association Arcigay, Franco Grillini, in an interview with Gay Star News. “It means it is not a real law protecting LGBT people, but it is just appeasing them.”
“Pro-family” groups are also not happy, as they perceive the new bill to restrict their freedom of speech, although it doesn’t, as well as the first step to introducing marriage equality.
Italy is ranked as one of the most homophobic countries within the European Union; LGBT association Gay Center reported that forty percent of straight students do not want gay friends.