​Equality or Inequality? Here's Where Italy's Parties Stand on LGBTI Rights

In order to help voters make an informed decision on election day, the 4 March, Liberties member the Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights (CILD) has researched each party's position on LGBTI rights.

After the first two articles on the positions of Italian political parties on cannabis legislation and immigration and security policies, CILD has decided to look into another very important issue regarding civil rights: LGBTI rights.

Italy is far behind most European states in the protection and enhancement of LGBTI rights. In ILGA-Europe's latest annual review of the human rights situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Europe, the country sadly ranks 32nd out of 49 states. This despite the positive achievements in the last legislature.

LGBTI rights in Italy: a longtime struggle

In the last 14 years, several proposals on the regulation of the status of same-sex couples have been presented by different parties. None of them was successful. With this regard, in 2015 the European Court of Human Rights asserted that the complete absence of a legal framework recognizing same-sex relations violates the right to respect for private and family life (art. 8, European Convention of Human Rights). The groundbreaking decision in the Oliari and others v. Italy case had a positive effect on the national debate on civil unions.

The state of things

At the current state, Italy is still a country where sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics are a factor of inequality on a daily basis. Even if Italy reached a “historic milestone” in granting civil unions in 2016, the country is far from being friendly to LGBTI rights.

The civil unions bill was met with fierce opposition, causing the removal of a clause that would have regulated stepchild adoptions. Today, same-sex families with children are neither considered nor protected by the state. Furthermore, lesbian, gay and bisexual people have no access to adoption, alone or in couples.

Activists and allies advocate for marriage equality, legal protection of rainbow families, but also for the introduction of anti-homo/transphobia bill to fight violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. The bill that regulates gender transitioning dates back to 1982 and needs to be updated accordingly to the best practices suggested by the jurisprudence of Italian courts and the major achievements of other European countries.

As for the “I”, intersex people in Italy have a substantial lack of visibility. Even if some rights are formally protected by law, their implementation is very limited; for example, there is no real prohibition to perform a medical intervention on intersex minors when the operation has no medical necessity.

As we will see, several issues linked to LGBTI rights have been mentioned by political parties. Many others have been excluded (see: right to asylum). However, what needs to be noted is that a big number of parties did not take a clear position on LGBTI rights. Still, when it comes to civil rights and political elections, silence can be as loud as a stance.

Where the parties stand

CILD’s research on the position of each party was carried out through an analysis of their programs. Here the main results:

  • Centre-right coalition: the centre-right coalition presented a shared programme for these elections. LGBTI rights are not openly mentioned.
    • Forza Italia: the leader of the party, Silvio Berlusconi, declared that he is in favour of abolishing the recently granted civil unions. Berlusconi stated that a family is only made of a man and a woman willing to give birth to children.
    • Lega: in the last legislature Lega voted against the approval of the civil unions bill. Their programme does not include any mention to LGBTI rights, stating that a family can only be made of a man and a woman. Furthermore, it includes a proposal that would exclude same-sex families from official acts, making any minor-related document binary (with the only option of having a “father” and a “mother”).
    • Fratelli d’Italia: in the last legislature, the party voted against the approval of the civil unions bill. Their programme doesn’t mention LGBTI rights. In fact, it includes the will to preserve so called “natural families” (made of a woman and a man).
  • Centre-left coalition: the centre-left coalition has different - but favorable - positions on the LGBTI issue.
    • Partito Democratico: the approval of the civil unions bill is listed as one of the main victories from the last legislature led by Partito Democratico. Their programme includes the will to fight homophobia and the recognition of the plurality of families. It doesn’t mention equal marriage but it supports the need to reform the current legislation on adoption.
    • +Europa: the party is for the overcoming of all legal and social discriminations based on sexual orientation. In its programme, it mentions equal marriage, adoption, and stepchild adoption.
  • Movimento 5 stelle: LGBTI rights are not mentioned in the programme of the party that decided to abstain from voting the civil unions bill in the last legislature.
  • Liberi e Uguali: LGBTI rights are included in their programme. The party is for the recognition of the plurality of families, the reform of the adoption law, the introduction of marriage equality, overcoming discrimination related to parenthood and the fight against homophobic violence. Liberi e Uguali explicitly mentions trans’ rights.
  • Potere al Popolo: the party widely included LGBTI rights in their programme. In fact, it is in favor of overcoming disparities and discriminations experienced by LGBTI people both as individuals and families. The programme includes marriage equality, no discrimination on parenthood’s rights, the fight against homo-transphobic violence and the fight against HIV. Potere al Popolo is the only party that explicitly mentions intersex rights.
  • Casapound: their programme doesn’t mention LGBTI rights. Casapound’s leader, Simone Di Stefano, declared that the rainbow flag (the symbol of the LGBTI community) can only be defeated with the Italian flag. On several occasions, he has stated that a family can only be formed by a man and a woman, as he opposed the possibility of extending the right to adoption to LGBTI people.