Italian ‘anti-homophobia’ bill passes lower house
ROME, September 23, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The leading sponsor of Italy’s “anti-homophobia” bill, Deputy Ivan Scalfarotto, complained to the L’Espresso newspaper today that the bill is now “incomplete” after amendments watering down the bill were accepted in order to ensure its passage. Nevertheless, Scalfarotto, a long-time homosexualist activist in Parliament, called the bill a “small revolution for our country,” because it introduces into Italian law for the first time “the crime of homo and transphobia”.
On Friday, the Italian lower house passed by a slim margin the contentious anti-homophobia bill, which critics have said could be used to facilitate legal persecution of Christians and others who oppose the political goals of the homosexualist movement.
The bill, however, did not have an easy time getting past the Deputies, facing over 400 amendments in committee and a debate in the Chamber of Deputies that was described as “very heated.”
The bill was passed only after a “sub-amendment” was added that said, “For the purposes of this Act, free expression and manifestation of beliefs or opinions related to pluralism of ideas, do not constitute discrimination nor incitement to discrimination, as long as it does not incite to hatred or to violence.” The amendment said this applied to “organizations that carry out political activities, trade unions, cultural, educational, health or religious organisations or those related to worship.”
The changes have been subject to criticism by lawyers from the country’s leading homosexualist group Arcigay, who have complained that the law is now “toothless”.
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Meanwhile, on the other side of the fence, Deputy Eugenia Roccella (PdL) said, “Even the world of gay associations realizes that the anti-homophobia [bill] is a bad law. This legal monster scares everyone and does not satisfy anyone.”
“On the one hand,” she said, “they have chosen the way of repressive and illiberal legislation. On the other hand we decided to fix it by trying to create ‘islands’ of freedom of opinion.” She said it is now up to the Senate, which “has the task of starting over”.
Scalfarotto downplayed Friday’s sub-amendment and the other changes, saying allowing their passage was simply an exercise in “pure strategy,” without which the bill would never have passed opposition from Berlusconi’s Popolo della Liberta (PdL) party or the right wing Lega Nord.
“If we had not done so we would have missed the window for scheduling,” he told the news website Gay.it.
The sub-amendment’s specifications made it “much less worrying” he added. The exemptions, he said, will only apply if the person is acting “inside, not outside” his particular organisation or group and “if they relate to the implementation of the principles and values of constitutional importance.”
Meanwhile the country’s leading homosexualist lobby group, Arcigay, appears to be testing the legal waters. Together with The Omphalos Association and Arcilesbica Perugia, Arcigay has launched a complaint, called a “denunzia,” of “homophobia,” that they allege was committed during a religious education class at the Liceo Classico Mariotti, a university preparatory high school, in the Umbrian town of Perugia.
According to the complaint, made to the National Anti-discrimination Office of the Ministry for Equal Opportunities, the teacher handed out a questionnaire to students asking them to rank from 0 to 10 the gravity of sinfulness of a list of activities, including, “Selling drugs, pollution, war, terrorism, murder, contraceptive methods, abortion, premarital experiences [that lead to] AIDS infection and homosexuality”.
In a media release, The Omphalos Association said the questionnaire gave “a judgement … which was not posed in a neutral manner” because it assumed that the behaviours listed incurred “guilt”.