Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

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‘You do not want a real debate in this country’: Fmr. deputy calls anti-homophobia law ‘stifling’

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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ROME, August 6, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The status of Italy’s draft anti-homophobia law remains uncertain the morning after a late-night debate in the Chamber of Deputies. Deputies failed to come to a final decision on the bill that has been panned as a means to shut down public opposition to planned “gay marriage” and civil unions laws.

The debate is expected to be continued through the rest of the week, with the bill possibly not going to a vote until the House reconvenes in September.

Eugenia Roccella, a PdL Deputy and former feminist who has embraced the pro-life position, has opposed the bill, accusing leftist elements in the government of attempting to stifle the debate and asking why it was being brought forward at the last possible moment before the summer break.

“It’s absurd that at a time when the country expects answers to the problems of the [economic] crisis, and when Parliament is crowded with decrees, to insist on entering at all costs the law on homophobia. [Maybe] the Left believes the issue is not so important to be able to postpone until September," Eugenia said. "Why then confine the debate in a night sitting, almost on the sly?”

She recalled that the Judiciary Committee “had resorted to a night sitting” while “avoiding the consideration of amendments” in coming to its decision to forward the bill to the Lower House.

“The suspicion arises that you do not want to open a real debate in the country, involving the public, and that you prefer to stifle discussion, perhaps continuing to talk about it only in the late evening,” she said.

Only about 50 Deputies stayed for the debate out of a total 630 members. Altogether, 28 spoke to a nearly empty House on the bill that Italian media is calling one of the most controversial ever brought forward in the Chamber of Deputies. It proposes to make it a criminal act, punishable by up to 6 years in prison, for “instigating” others or committing “acts of discrimination on grounds of ethnic, racial, religiou,s or nation [or] based on homophobia or transphobia.”

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The highest penalties are reserved for those who found or are involved in organizations, which critics of the bill contend would include any organization that lobbied against “gay marriage” or civil unions.

An editorial in Tempi.it said this morning, “The haste with which the debate was carried out in a nearly empty Chamber has perplexed many parliamentarians. The blitz last night does not play at all in favour of finding a shared solution on the main points of this Bill.” a much more serious sloppiness because in all likelihood the vote on proposal Scalfarotto-lion must slip after the suspension of the works for the summer holidays.

Francesco Sisto, a PdL Deputy and criminal lawyer, was among those who spoke, and warned the House that the haste on the debate posed the risk that the serious criticisms of the bill would go unaddressed by parliament.

“It is unacceptable that the [Justice] Commission has not taken account of the opinion and the observations of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs,” Sisto told the Italian bishops’ newspaper Avvenire in an interview today. “On a subject so delicate, if you want to prevent discriminatory phenomena you risk trespassing in the area of a ‘crime of opinion.’ We must be careful.”

He said that the Justice Commission had agreed to be vigilant against the risk of criminalizing political or moral opinions: “Despite the agreement, inexplicably, they have not taken this into any consideration. And this I consider very serious, for the Commission and for the respect of political agreements, painstakingly reached, with mutual concessions.”

Critics of the bill, including the Italian bishops conference, have warned that it will lead to prosecutions of religious people who may lobby against efforts to introduce homosexual civil unions or gay "marriage.”

Constitutional experts were particularly alarmed by provisions that allowed “ancillary penalties” for those convicted that would see them forced to become involved in organizations promoting homosexuality.

In comments today, the homosexual activists who had previously supported the bill have singled out the removal of this wording, saying that without such ancillary penalties the bill has become toothless. The Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S) has denounced what it called “a rule emptied of its original intent, that may not have tangible effects.”

In particular, the group told media today, they objected to the removal of “ancillary penalties, which would bring the convicted to serve their sentences serving lgbt associations,” as well as the removal of the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” Legislators, they said, by using only the terms “homophobia” and “transphobia,” have excluded bisexuals and “those who have decided not to change sex while having a gender identity that does not correspond to their physical [sex]”.

The bill is being actively pushed by international groups promoting homosexuality, including Amnesty International who wrote to all the Deputies urging its passage. “Fighting homophobia and transphobia and guaranteeing the rights of those in prisons and in the custody of police” is part of their 10-point Agenda for human rights in Italy, presented by Amnesty International Italy on the eve of parliamentary elections in 2013. Among those Deputies who signed the 10-point pledge are mostly representatives of the extreme left of the Italian political scene, including the Radical Party, the 5-Star Movement and Ecology and Freedom.

Meanwhile, denials that the homophobia bill was intended to stifle public opposition to the homosexualist movement’s political agenda are being read in the light of revelations that same-sex “marriage” and civil unions bills have already been quietly proposed in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.

Starting in March this year, the same week that the eyes of the world’s media were fixed on the Vatican for the Conclave, a total of six bills, were introduced and debated, demanding that marriage be extended “to families consisting of two persons of the same sex” in Italy.

The first, titled, “Norme contro la discriminazione matrimoniale” (“Norms against discrimination in marriage”) was given the “short title” of “matrimonio tra persone dello stesso sesso,” or “marriage of persons of the same sex." The six bills were later reduced to three, and remain under consideration.

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