Italy remains one of the last countries in the European Union without a specific legislation on civil unions, which means that if a couple is not legally married, it’s not recognized by law and therefore the de facto couple doesn’t have the rights and the duties which legally married couples are entitled to.
The couples involved in the civil union debate are both the so called “traditional couples”, composed by a man and a woman, and the same-sex couples. No need to say, in the Catholic dominated Italian politics the debate is focused around the Lesbian and Gay couples.
The discussion is not new in the political arena: it’s since 1988 that different attempts have been made to pass a law which would recognize the rights and the duties of “non-traditionally” married couples. It is during the second mandate of the Prime Minister Romano Prodi (2006 – 2008) that a serious effort was made to write a bill on civil unions, but the fall of Prodi’s Government frustrated the endeavour.
The Cirinnà draft
After a number of years of impasse and change of Governments, a draft for a bill on civil unions is finally ready.
On the 28th of January, the draft of the bill by Senator Monica Cirinnà (Democratic Party) reached the Parliament for the customary discussion.
The proposal by Cirinnà aims to safeguard the rights of the people who choose a “non-traditional cohabitation”, people who are a considerable number in the today society and constantly growing. As a matter of fact, in the bill introduction Cirinnà highlights how the Parliament cannot be blind anymore to the real situation of the country.
The draft proposes that the civil union should be equated to a “traditional family”. The Articles mainly concern the possibility to inherit and the right to obtain the partner’s pension in case of death, the right to obtain residency in Italy in case a member of the couple is a foreigner citizen, the right to criminal and health assistance, and the rights of the children involved in a civil union.
Again, what the bill is aiming to do is simply to extend the rights and duties already recognized to married couple to the “non-traditionally married couples”, be they heterosexual or not.
The first presentation of the bill, long delayed in the Parliament by the Renzi Government, has sparked an intense debate in the public and a political diatribe.
It might appear as an indisputable and non-controversial bill to be approved as soon as possible to finally align Italy to the rest of the European Union, but why has it sparkled such a controversy?
In the past year, Italians have witnessed the birth of “The Gender”, an ubiquitous presence in the papers and in the media.
“The Gender” is believed to be an ideology, “in between a pseudo scientific theory and a political need” which states that there is no biological difference between a man and a woman, and all the differences between the biological sexes are to be erased. It involves the idea of “homogenization” of the planet and the “utopia of egalitarianism” as an individual will be free to choose what sex to be.
Included in the Gender ideology is the same sex parenthood debate: children won’t have a mother and a father anymore, but Parent 1 and Parent 2.
Strong advocate of “The Gender” is the Gay Lobby, what is believed to be a powerful group of LGBT people who wants to promote the Gender ideology.
In the most recent years “the Gender ideology” was endorsed by movements such as “La Manif pour tous“, “Generazione Famiglia“, “No ai matrimoni gay in Italia” and right wing political parties such as Lega Nord.
Rallies such as “The Family Day” are common: “traditional families” gather in Rome to protest against Gay and Lesbian unions, singing songs as “the family is only one” and “The identity should not be confused” (in Italian: “Una sola è la famiglia” and “L’identità non si confonde”).
Flash mobs against any LGBT demonstration are increasing: “The standing Sentinels” (“Le sentinelle in piedi” in Italian) gather “to watch over society … and denouncing any time that it is attempted to destroy society and mankind”.
As many personalities of the academic world pointed out, “The Gender” ideology is a “polemic invention” which started at the end of the 90s, when the Vatican started to publish some written work with the aim to label, distort and delegitimize the achievement of the gender study research.
The confusion between concepts as gender, gender studies, gender identity and similar in a not educated people is very common, and it’s exploited by some political forces and civil society groups.
These groups present themselves as the defenders of the traditional family against the horror of “The Gender”, they aim to create a wide opposition to reforms -such as the one proposed in the draft by Cirinnà- which would reduce discrimination towards non heterosexual people and protect their rights.
Most important, they hide themselves behind the idea of “freedom of expression”: when the Scalfarotto law against LGBT discrimination was discussed in the Parliament, the champions of traditional family claimed that laws as such are “killer of freedom of speech” as a personal opinion against the LGBT world would now be considered as a felony.
Never mind the distortion of the content of the bill, these claims were enough to delay the approval of the bill and to increase the debate on the Gender ideology.
On Sunday 24 January, LGBT movements took it to the streets and made their voices heard to the cry “wake up Italy”, calling on the Government to quickly approve the bill and align itself with the other countries in the Union.
On Thursday the Parliament will begin the discussion on the Cirinnà draft, a discussion which looks to be heated: already over 6,000 amendments have been proposed by both the opposition and the Catholic fringe of the Democratic Party.
Will Italy finally move on the path of civil rights, or will it be held hostage by “The Gender” fighters?