As you know, a far right government has just been elected in Italy. A partner in the majority alliance is Umberto Bossi's Northern League,a xenophobic party, that recently renounced its separatist goals and has thus been labelled by most commentators as less extremist than previously.Unfortunately,in the last few months, in order to balance this "moderation",the Northern League has chosen a new enemy, the gay and lesbian community.
We have documented the aggressive attitude of this party in a large dossier containing all the many hostile statements its officials made on gay issues in the last few months (you can find it at this address: http://www.gay.it/view.php?ID=8624 and linked following pages - only in Italian, for the moment).
Just to give you an example of the rhetoric adopted in the last few months by the League officials,the charismatic leader of this party is a guy that has often repeated that "the nazis that govern the European Union" want gay marriages to be recognized, so that no more European children will be born, and massive immigration from Africa will therefore be imposed to fill the gap; he also said that recognizing gay families would be a "criminal act", and that "these filthy people should be wiped out".
They also organized a campaign against gay adoptions, although none of the bills introduced in Parliament in the last decade on our request concerning gay rights ever proposed such move. Also the other major partner in the coalition, the formerly openly fascist Alleanza Nazionale, has an antigay agenda, asking for the discrimination of gay teachers in primary schools (thus hinting at a link between homosexuality and paedophilia). And the junior partner in the Berlusconi alliance is a small ultra-clerical party.
We have only one big asset to use against a possible overtly hostile attitude by the new government: The biggest problem now facing Berlusconi is the lack of international and European respectability (largely compromised thanks to the attitude of most international media). That's why we ask you an urgent steady lobbying pressure on your governments, so that they make it very clear from the beginning to Italy's next Prime Minister that gay issues are in their view nothing less than a part of the human rights agenda, and that the situation of gay rights in Italy will be carefully monitored in the months ahead in order to verify the democratic credentials and the acceptability of his administration.
Thank you all for everything you can do.
Sergio Lo Giudice, Arcigay national President
Franco Grillini, MP-elect and Arcigay honorary President
Bologna, Italy - 2001-05-16