The Italian Senate voted on Wednesday to reject a bill that would have banned anti-LGBTQ violence and discrimination.
A motion to block the “Zan bill” adopted by 154 votes to 131 after being presented by the right-wing parties Lega Nord and Fratelli d’Italia (Fdl).
The legislation is said to have amended the Italian penal code to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability.
It was first introduced by center-left MP Alessandro Zan to the lower house in May 2018 in response to a growing wave of homophobic and transphobic attacks in Italy.
The bill was passed by the lower house of parliament in November 2020, but encountered difficulties in the Senate.
Although endorsed by her supporters as a welcome change in a country seen as lagging behind its Western European neighbors on LGBT rights, her references to gender identity have made her unpopular with right-wing politicians. and Catholics, including the Vatican.
At present, the section of the Italian penal code that specifically prohibits hate crimes and discrimination – or the “Mancino law”, dating from 1993 – explicitly mentions only “racial, ethnic, national or religious” grounds.
Bill Zan would have added five new categories: sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.
Acts of discrimination based on such grounds could result in offenders being sentenced to 18 months in prison or a fine of € 6,000. Violent crimes could result in four years of incarceration.
“The arrogance of [Democratic Party leader] Letta was punished, ”tweeted Lega Nord leader and former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who had long rallied to the bill and proposed numerous amendments.
“He refused any dialogue and any proposal for change from families, associations, the Pope and representatives of the LGBT and feminist world. The result? #DDLZan failed, months and years of unnecessary discussions.”
Democratic Party leader and former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta regretted the Senate’s decision, but said change would eventually come.
“[T]hey wanted to stop the future. They wanted to bring Italy back. Yes, they and their filth won in the Senate today. But the country is on the other side. And soon we will see it.