Last Wednesday on Oct. 27, 2021, the Italian Senate voted against a bill that had the potential to protect the LGTBQ community in their country. The bill was designed to eliminate LGBTQ+ violence and discrimination by punishing those who did so with up to four years in prison or a €6,000 fine.
Not only that, but the bill would also authorize an increase in funding towards organizations helping to end violent crimes against the LGTBQ+ community. This funding would also be able to help hate crime victims with their recovery and future safety.
The Zan bill’s purpose and overall importance were to extend the protection of the 1993 Mancino Law to the LGBTQ+ community. The Mancino Law outlawed hate crimes and discrimination, but never specifically referenced homophobia and transphobia within its wording. It only ever mentioned discrimination that had racial, ethnic or religious motives. Due to this, LGBTQ+ victims have continuously had difficulty finding justice within Italy.
The Zan bill was first introduced back in May of 2018 by a Democratic legislator, Alessandro Zan. He proposed the bill after several attacks on the community had transpired throughout the year. After gaining some popularity last Nov., the bill had been approved by Italy’s lower-level parliament.
Although the bill had strong support, Italy’s far-right and Catholic groups, including the Vatican, shared their distaste for the Zan bill. While the bill was being processed, religious groups continuously protested the passing of the bill. They were against the Zan bill being passed because they believed that if it were to become a law it would only suppress the freedom of expression and forward the homosexual agenda within their schools. With these communities having a heavy influence in the Italian government, the Senate rejected the bill with a vote of 154 to 131.
The Vatican has recently been criticized significantly for intervening in the bill’s progress due to a letter they had sent to the Senate. The Vatican’s main point in sending the letter was to urge lawmakers to make modifications to the bill after describing its contents as being vague. They explained how the bill had the potential to violate the Catholic Church’s freedoms which have been protected in an Italian agreement since 1984.
When the bill was then handed to the Italian Senate and rejected, there was concern that the Vatican’s intervention was what caused the bill to be blocked. Several celebrities and politicians have shared their disproval of the letter being sent to the Senate including Prime Minister Mario Draghi who stated, “it is not a confessional state and parliament is free to discuss”. He further emphasized that the Catholic Church’s freedoms were never threatened.
The Vatican has since released a statement confessing that their letter was not meant to stop the bill from being passed, only for a few changes to be made before the Senate voted. They have also mentioned in another statement that the letter was never meant to be released to the public as a way to swing the Senate to reject it.