LGBTQ+ Italians are concerned about the views of the country's presumptive new prime minister, Giorgia Meloni.
Meloni is leader of the Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy), a right-wing party that is forming a coalition government with two other conservative parties, League and Forza Italia, that appear to have won a majority of seats in Italy's Parliament. Voting results will likely be final by Monday.
If all goes as expected, she will be the nation's first woman leader and head its most conservative government since World War II. However, she has "played down her party's post-fascist roots and portrays it as a mainstream group like Britain's Conservatives," according to Openly, the Thomson Reuters Foundation's LGBTQ+ news site.
But there's no getting away from the anti-LGBTQ+ statements she has made on many occasions and those made by her colleagues in Fratelli d'Italia.
"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," she said in June while speaking to members of a far-right party in Spain.
She opposes allowing same-sex couples to have children through adoption or surrogacy. When an LGBTQ+ activist queried her on Facebook about the issue, she replied, "I believe a child has the right to grow up with a father and a mother."
Other members of her party have spoken out against LGBTQ+ rights as well. Federico Mollicone, culture spokesman for Fratelli d'Italia, recently said that "in Italy homosexual couples are not legal, are not allowed," Openly notes. In reality, Italy allows same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, something the government approved in 2016; Fratelli d'Italia opposed the move. Civil unions confer fewer rights than marriage, and Italy remains the only major country in Western Europe without marriage equality.
Meloni has said she won't try to weaken LGBTQ+ rights or outlaw abortion, but many Italians are worried just the same.
"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," Roberto Muzzetta, a board member for LGBTQ+ group Arcigay, told Openly. "In fact, she will slow it down or do nothing about it, even though we're already lagging behind our neighbors."
Meloni and her party have received praise from many far-right American politicians and pundits. Among those who have expressed support are U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and former Donald Trump aide Steve Bannon, who's now been charged with money laundering and other crimes in relation to charity fraud.