Italy’s lawmakers voted this week to reject a law that would have protected LGBT citizens from discrimination.
Italy’s Chamber of Deputies, which is dominated by Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s conservatives, voted 293 to 250 against widening existing protections that already cover discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, ethnicity and nationality.
Hate crimes, and particularly those against LGBTs, have seen a sharp increase in recent years, and campaigners are angry that lawmakers have chosen to ignore this problem.
Following the vote Paolo Patane, head of gay rights association Arcigay, told AFP: “This parliament has betrayed justice and civility and has decided to support the violent.”
He added the EU should “help us face this extremely dangerous rise in homophobia, xenophobia and racism that the Italian parliament has decided to legitimise.”
The reason for lawmakers rejecting this legislation may be tactical. Reports suggest lawmakers feared that once they formally recognized the discrimination faced by LGBTs and moved to protect them, it would become harder to justify denying LGBTs other rights — the eventual outcome, obviously, being a debate on marriage and adoption, rights for same-sex couples that many lawmakers in the Catholic region oppose.
As indicated above, campaigners have now said they will turn to the European Union in order to force legislators to enact nondiscrimination legislation.
Article 21 of the European Union’s “European Charter of Fundamental Rights” bans discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, a move supported by several other viable provisions. You can find out more about those here.