By Hilary White

ROME, October 15, 2009 ( – The Italian parliament has rejected an attempt by homosexualist campaigners to install “sexual orientation” as a privileged category in hate crime legislation. The measure was defeated by a vote of 285- 222.

Opponents had argued that the change to the criminal code would have produced an inequality, in fact a case of reverse discrimination. Politician Rocco Buttiglione said that homosexuals are protected under the law in the same way as all other citizens and said that the defeat of the bill was a victory for “the principle of the equality of all citizens – a principle enshrined in our constitution.”

Isabella Bertolini, a legislator and member of Silvio Berlusconi's ruling party who had also opposed the court-ordered killing of Eluana Englaro last year, said that the attempt to institute “inherent sexual orientation” into the criminal code was “clearly unconstitutional” and was “likely to cause serious problems and serious discrimination.”

The concept, she said, was the “fruit of relativistic thought” that is growing in Italy that would “produce a substantial difference in treatment for homosexuals and transsexuals before the law.” The proposed law would have created a legal situation in which an act of violence would be considered more serious if the victim were a homosexual. “This is incomprehensible,” Bertolini said.

Bertolini warned, based on the experience of other countries with similar “sexual orientation” legislation, that should it be put in place in Italy, the result would be restrictions on freedom of speech.

Once introduced into the hate crime sections of the law, she said, “It would not be possible [for people] to exercise the right to express their opinions or criticisms” of homosexual activity, a serious matter in a predominantly Catholic country. She further warned that the proposed law would have been “used as a gateway to revolutionize the concept of marriage, family, adoption and unhinge the fundamental values that underpin our society.”

The defeat of the bill has been criticized at the United Nations, with the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights calling it “a step backward for human rights.”

“Gays and lesbians deserve full protection under the law,” said Navi Pillay, who added that governments should make additional laws specifically protecting homosexuals.

Italian welfare minister, Mariastella Carfagna, said that new hate crime legislation would be drafted that would call for harsher penalties for all crimes motivated by “discrimination” that would include the “sexual orientation” category. Currently hate crime legislation exists in Italy that includes the categories of race, ethnicity, nationality and religion. The inclusion of “sexual orientation” into the existing code has been a major goal of the country's homosexualist political lobby for some years.

Homosexualist campaigners have announced that a march will be held in Rome to protest the vote on October 17. 


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