“Family Day”: How Italy Still Struggles with Gay Rights

Italy is one of Europe’s countries that has yet to grant rights to gay couples. However, recently the government has started to tackle the matter of gay rights, and protesters have gathered in Rome to march in favour of “traditional family” values.

Rome, Italy — It was reported that as many as one million people took part in a demonstration in Rome yesterday for the so-called “Family Day”. The purpose of this event was for people to gather in name of the “traditional family” values and to stand against any legislation in favour of giving LGBT couples more rights.

Since Ireland introduced, through a popular referendum, legislation that allows two men and two women to marry, the talk on same-sex unions heated up in Italy once again. The government had once again realised how the country is lagging behind on gay rights issues, especially when a strongly religious country like Ireland (only comparable to Italy in Europe for its adherence to catholic morals) made such moves.

The main reason, in fact, why the Irish referendum triggered such reactions in Italy is the country’s famous attachment to the catholic ethos, which has had for decades a strong influence on its culture and politics. However, regardless of its “conservativeness”, Ireland granted gay couple the right to marriage before Italy did.

Italy is one of the few EU countries left with no legislation on civil unions or marriage for LGBT couples. After the Irish referendum, prime minister Matteo Renzi pledged to introduce legislation on the matter by July.

Therefore, as the month comes closer and the Italian government is making its decisions on civil union laws, protesters gathered in central Rome to show their support for the traditional family values and the protection of children from “different” family structures. “Let us defend our children” was the slogan used by most protestors.

“Our main goal was to fill in Rome’s squares with thousands of families from all over the country to protect the innocence of our children and their right to have a mother and a father, and to re-state our strong opposition to any decision of changing our constitution” said Massimo Gandolfini, one of the event’s main organisers.

The last “Family Day” took place in 2007, and saw former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi as one of the many participants. In yesterday’s event, over one hundred italian MPs took part, and minister Angelino Alfano tweeted how he will let the protesters’ voices heard in the fight for defending their children from pro-gay marriage legislation.

Most members of the Italian Democratic Party, however, dismissed yesterday’s demonstration as a “bizarre protest against human rights”, stressing how the government has already decided to introduce legislation on same-sex unions in the near future and has no intention of making steps backwards on the matter of gay rights.


 

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