The slogan of Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy Party, a key player in the the country's new ruling coalition, is 'God, family, fatherland.' LGBT+ communities, humanists and atheists are right to be concerned.

As a resident in Spain for the past 12 years I was horrified to see footage of the rapturous applause given to the “post-fascist” leader of The Brothers of Italy, Giorgia Meloni , when she addressed a rally in June staged by the Spanish far-right party, Vox.

Spain, overall, finds the views of parties such as Vox and The Brothers of Italy (FdI) abhorrent, having suffered for decades under the fascist rule of General Franco, and since the country became a democracy over 40 years ago it has become one of the most progressive democracies in the world.

In response to the question on Quora, “Why is Spain such a conservative country?” Mithur Sheridan this week replied:

It is though? We have a socialist government in coalition with a party more at its left. We are the most gay-friendly country on earth. Third in equalitarian marriage (years before USA).

We have a explicit consent law. We have euthanasia laws.

We have the highest percentage of people not born here of Europe (except for Luxembourg and other weird cases) and immigration isn’t even among the 10 worst problems pools.

Our regions have the highest grade of autonomy from Europe, and our level of patriotism is the lower.

Meloni addressing right-wingers in Spain in June of this year. Image via YouTube/Vox

My horror was compounded at the weekend when it became clear that Italians had voted for a right-wing alliance, and that Meloni—a patriotic “Christian mother” who thinks that the dictator Benito Mussolini was Italy’s best Prime Minister in 50 years—is set to become the country first woman premier at the head of its most right-wing government since World War II.

According to this report, the triumph of a right-wing alliance has raised concern among LGBT+ campaigners, who fear that Meloni could adopt anti-gay policies and set back their efforts to boost equality. 

Meloni fiercely denounced what she calls “gender ideology” and “the LGBT lobby” just months before Sunday’s vote. Before, Meloni, peppered speeche with anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and conservative statements on family-related issues. 

When she addressed Vox supporters in the southern Spanish city of Marbella she said:

Yes to natural families, no to the LGBT lobby, yes to sexual identity, no to gender ideology, yes to the culture of life, no to the abyss of death.

In the past few weeks, Meloni has repeatedly denied suggestions she might roll back legislation on abortion or LGBTQ+ rights, while reaffirming her opposition to adoptions and surrogacy for same-sex couples.

Days before the election, however, a senior member of her Brothers of Italy (FdI) group suggested same-sex parenting was not normal.

Federico Mollicone, culture spokesman for the FdI, reiterated his criticism of an episode of the children’s cartoon “Peppa Pig” that featured a polar bear with two mothers.

He said further that “in Italy homosexual couples are not legal, are not allowed”—despite the country having legalised same-sex civil unions in 2016, a reform the FdI opposed in parliament.

In a Facebook message to an LGBT+ activist who confronted her earlier this month, Meloni said:

I believe a child has the right to grow up with a father and a mother.

Where do LGBT+ communities stand in Italy today?

Italy ranks 23rd in the 27-member European Union when it comes to legal protections for LGBTQ+ people, according to advocacy group ILGA-Europe.

It is the only major country in Western Europe that has not legalised same-sex marriage, though some micro-states such as Monaco and San Marino have also not done so.

Italy has legalised same-sex civil unions, but these do not grant gay couples the same rights as married heterosexual couples, particularly when it comes to parenting. Joint adoption is not available for same-sex couples.

Image via YouTube

Roberto Muzzetta, above, a board member at Italy’s biggest gay LGBTQ+ group Arcigay, said:

Even if she doesn’t introduce any anti-LGBT laws, she will not speed up what we’re trying to do to improve the current situation. In fact, she will slow it down, or do nothing about it, even though we’re already lagging behind our neighbours.

Last October, the Italian Senate voted to block debate over a bill that would make violence against women and LGBTQ+ people a hate crime, effectively killing off a proposal previously approved by the lower house of parliament.

The bill, championed by the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), triggered fierce discussion in Italy, with the Vatican saying that it could restrict the religious freedom of the Roman Catholic Church.

Arcigay said it records more than 100 hate crime and discrimination cases a year.

Despite lagging most of its EU neighbours on LGBTQ+ rights, a 2020 study by the US-based Pew Research Center found 75 percent of Italians think homosexuality should be accepted.

Some gay, bisexual and transgender people fear Meloni’s nationalist stance could increase discrimination against LGBT+ Italians.

In the northern city of Verona, Stefano Ambrosini, a gay 28-year-old PhD student, said he feared Meloni’s election triumph could lead to an increase in homophobic violence.

A lot of the people who voted for her are the ones who are already perpetuating violence and discrimination against the community. Now that she has won, these people will feel empowered and definitely safe in doing the terrible things that they want to do to our community.

Activist Muzzetta said a clear majority in parliament could pave the way for the right-wing alliance to introduce anti-LGBTQ+ policies that have already been discussed in some regions or municipalities, such as LGBTQ-related books and events bans.

Benito Mussolini, left and Adolf Hitler. Image via Wikimedia CC

Meanwhile, Spanish newspaper, Público, yesterday carried a headline that said: The fascist Georgia Meloni, an admirer of Mussolini: “He was a good politician. Everything he did he did for Italy” and added:

It is disturbing to hear a public representative defend the figure of a military man and fascist dictator like Benito Mussolini. The concern, however, takes on dark overtones when said public representative becomes president of a nation.

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