Italy’s Senate has quashed a bill that would have amended the country’s hate-crimes and antidiscrimination law to cover LGBTQ+ people, women, and people with disabilities.
The Senate, which is the upper house of the Italian Parliament, voted Wednesday to block debate on the bill, which ends its chance of passing during this session of Parliament, Reuters reports. Debate on the measure cannot reopen for six months, and the bill’s supporters believe that will not leave enough time to pass it before the session ends in early 2023. Parliament’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, had already approved the legislation.
The bill drew opposition from conservative politicians and from the Vatican. In a fairly rare move into secular politics, the Roman Catholic Church expressed deep reservations about the bill over the summer. Vatican officials said they worried that limiting the priesthood to men, refusing to marry same-sex couples, and declining to teach gender theory would be considered discriminatory and criminal if the bill became law.
The Vatican also claimed the legislation would violate its “concordat,” or agreement, that governs its relationship with Italy. Vatican City, the home of the church’s headquarters, is an independent city-state surrounded by Rome.
And far-right parties in the Senate contended the bill would interfere with free speech and cause “homosexual propaganda” to be taught in schools, The Guardian reports.
“Attempts by various governments over the past three decades to enact a similar law have either been stifled or sabotaged, with any progress or even just meaningful debate stymied by a macho culture, Catholicism and support for far-right parties,” the publication notes.
The measure was backed by Italy’s Democratic Party and named for Alessandro Zan, a gay member of the Chamber of Deputies. The move to block it has received widespread denunciation. It was “one of the worst pages in the history of the Italian republic,” said Pina Picierno, a member of the European Parliament, according to The Guardian. Gaynet Roma, an LGBTQ+ group, called it a “slap in the face for the majority of the population.”
Condemnation also came from two former past ministers of Italy. “They wanted to stop the future. They wanted to bring Italy back in history,” Enrico Letta, a former prime minister and now leader of the Democratic Party, said of the bill’s opponents. Another former prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, said, “Those who are rejoicing at this sabotage should explain it to the country.”
The rejoicers include the far-right League and Brothers of Italy political party. Simone Pillon, a senator affiliated with the party, wrote “Bye Bye Zan” on Facebook, adding, “There is still hope in Italy.”