Italian government’s anti-LGBT rhetoric blamed for brutal beating of trans woman in Milan
Many say the assault of a Brazilian transgender woman in Milan is another case of discrimination – set against the anti-LGBT+ rhetoric of Meloni’s government.
A video of a trans woman in Milan pepper sprayed, kicked and beaten by three police officers caused a stir in Italy, with many linking the incident to growing transphobic rhetoric in the country.
Footage shows officers repeatedly beating the woman, a Brazilian national, as she sits on the ground without showing any form of resistance.
She raises her arms and takes off her glasses. Then receives a final blow to the head before an officer finally puts her in handcuffs.
The facts surrounding the incident, which happened on Wednesday, are still vague.
Italian media report that it started when concerned parents called the police, saying the woman was acting strange and potentially threatening outside a school. However, authorities say she was not harassing the children.
Euronews cannot verify at this stage what happened.
The clip – widely shared on social media – drew widespread condemnation in Italy, with some contrasting the beating of the trans woman with the anti-LGBT stance of the right-wing government of Giorgia Meloni.
An increasingly hostile environment?
Some say Meloni – who ran in the 2022 election with the slogan ‘I am a woman, I am a mother, I am a Christian’ – helped create a hostile space for Italy’s LGBT+ community.
She has repeatedly attacked what she has called the “LGBT lobby” since taking office, saying gender differences are “rooted in the body and that is an indisputable fact”.
Meloni previously said that the only real family is the traditional nuclear family, consisting of a man and a woman.
In March, Meloni said she was “concerned” about the impact of what she called “gender” on women’s rights, calling women the “first victims” of “gender ideology”.
However, the words of the Italian Prime Minister are disputed by others.
“Criminalization and incitement to violence against ‘transgender’ has deadly consequences,” Italian-Israeli journalist Rula Jebreal wrote on Twitter, of Wednesday’s incident involving the trans woman in Milan.
“The so-called ‘gender ideology’ is used to justify government discrimination.”
“This type of violence is neither legal nor moral…Italy’s far-right government propaganda targets and criminalizes trans and LGBTQ people…hate and violence are the main consequences,” he said. -she adds.
Following the incident in Milan, Italian senator and activist Ilaria Cucchi called on Meloni’s government to avoid legitimizing “the oppression of the most vulnerable categories” by law enforcement.
Cucchi is the sister of Stefano Cucchi, who was beaten to death by carabinieri police while imprisoned in 2009. It took Cucchi’s family ten years to get justice.
After an initial trial in 2013 that found officers not guilty, in November 2019 two were found guilty of Cucchi’s murder and were sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Cucchi said police violence in Milan “could not be justified” in a country that respects the rule of law.
“Racial and gender profiling”
Others have also interpreted the incident as a case of abuse against foreigners and trans people in Italy.
Italian journalist Luigi Mastrodonato said the incident reflected “racial and gender profiling” among police forces in Italy.
“We talk about it in the United States, but we do a lot less of it here,” he said.
According a 2019 study According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), 70% of respondents of African descent who were stopped by police in Italy believed they were being racially profiled.
This means that they claim to have been arrested because of the color of their skin, their nationality or their language.
Trans people also complain of mistreatment.
Talk to an Italian Newspaper Domani last year, Pia Covre, founder of a non-profit group advocating for the rights of sex workers, said trans people in Italy are “deeply” persecuted by law enforcement, especially when they engage in sex work.
“Trans sex workers, for example, are constantly identified, arrested and fired multiple times a day,” she said. “The situation gets worse when they are strangers.”
Will there be consequences for the police?
The incident in Milan has drawn mixed reactions among Italians, with some calling the police behavior unacceptable.
Others stood with the officers, saying the woman was threatening the children.
In the midst of an incendiary debate, local authorities are swapping a delicate line.
Milan police and city authorities said they are checking what happened before deciding what action to take against the officers involved.
Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala commented on the incident saying it was “really serious” and “definitely not a good image”.
But he added that the police must investigate what happened before deciding on a future course of action.