In a few weeks, I could go to jail for what I’m about to write.
The Italian Parliament is presently discussing the Zan Bill (introduced by Member of Parliament (MP) Alessandro Zan), also known as the Zan-Scalfarotto Bill (from MP Ivan Scalfarotto, author of the first draft). Both are members of the Partito Democratico, heir to the Communist Party. The bill’s objective is “to oppose homophobia and transphobia” by modifying the Penal Code with articles addressing “violence or discrimination due to sexual preferences or gender identity.” The bill claims to address a “gender emergency” in Italy as if the violence against homosexuals and transgenders were rampant.
Everything in the bill is wrong and dangerous.
To begin with, there is no “gender emergency” in Italy. Quite the contrary. Unfortunately, Italy is one of the most “homosexual-friendly” countries in Europe, ranking right under ultra-permissive Great Britain. More than 70% of Italians support equal rights for homosexuals. A stunning 27% would approve the formation of a homosexual political party, and 6.7% would vote for it. The European Union’s statistics office shows that Italy has one of the lowest rates of gender-related violence: only 29 cases per year. We have had two overtly homosexual regional presidents: Nichi Vendola of Puglia and Rosario Crocetta of Sicily. There is a transgender member of parliament: Vladimir Lussuria. A well-known TV commentator is a crossdresser: Mauro Coruzzi, aka Platinette. Etcetera. With available numbers, we can firmly conclude that there is no “gender emergency” in Italy, such as to necessitate special legislation.
Secondly, Italian law already protects the physical integrity and moral dignity of all citizens. The penal code severely punishes any offense—be it physical, verbal or through images—motivated by hatred or disdain (Art. 604 bis). It further penalizes “any propaganda or instigation to offend based on racial, ethnic or religious discrimination.” The penalty is aggravated if the offense is prompted by “futile or despicable motives” (Art. 61), like sexual orientation. In other words, homosexuals and transgenders are already sufficiently protected. Recent regional and federal verdicts show that Italian courts are already using the concept of homophobia based on the current penal code. There is absolutely no need for new legislation.
Thirdly, juridical theory establishes that there can be no punishment without a clear definition of a criminal act. Citizens cannot be condemned for crimes that are not defined. No legal code, be it Italian or European, defines “homophobia” and “transphobia.” Likewise, the scientific manuals like The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) or the International Classification of Mental Disorders (ICD) fail to define the terms. Thus, who will decide what constitutes the crime of “homophobia” or of “transphobia?”
One possibility is that the judges will decide, on a case-to-case basis, if an act constitutes a crime of homophobia or transphobia. Such decisions would lead to judicial arbitrariness. Since the vast majority of Italian judges side with the left of the political spectrum, we can imagine what their decisions would be like.
An even more dangerous way of defining these crimes is the concept of “perceived violence,” slowly gaining terrain in juridical theory. The crime would exist if the victim perceives the act to be offensive.
Let’s delve into the Zan-Scalfarotto Bill. It is undoubtedly the most dictatorial, absolutist and fascist piece of legislation ever produced in Italy. It has already been approved by the Justice Committee of the Chamber of Deputies and should be presented on the floor shortly. Supported by all left-wing parties, the bill was opposed only by Fratelli d’Italia and Lega parties. Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia chose to abstain, confirming its leftward slide.
If approved, the bill would punish any “discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation or gender identity” with:
- up to 18 months in jail, or up to 6 years if the offender belongs to an organization that rejects homosexuality or transgenderism;
- revocation of the person’s national ID card;
- revocation of the person’s passport;
- revocation of the person’s driving license;
- curfew after 6 p.m.;
- loss of political rights for three years.
The jail sentence can be commuted with “community service” at LGBTQ centers, where the offender will be properly “re-educated.” Yes RE-EDUCATED!
If this bill passes, a priest preaching from the Catechism of the Catholic Church regarding the Sixth and Ninth Commandments would be subject to the maximum penalty. And the undersigned could be writing the next article from a high-security cell.
Such an assault on religious and personal freedom has not gone unopposed.
The COVID pandemic has unsettled the country to its roots, disrupting political and cultural life, especially on the conservative camp. Public gatherings, if not altogether impossible, are very difficult to organize due to health restrictions. Despite these difficulties, as the Zan-Scalfarotto Bill sailed through Parliament, pro-life and pro-family groups began to gather, eventually forming the Restiamo Liberi (Let’s Remain Free) coalition. As in any coalition, there are some major players, like Pro Vita & Famiglia and Family Day; and dozens of minor players, like Sentinelle in Piedi, SOS Ragazzi and Famiglia Domani. The goal of the coalition is straightforward: stop the Zan-Scalfarotto Bill by applying public pressure on Parliament.
In a press release, Restiamo Liberi thus defined its aim: “We say NO to the institution of a new crime, that of ‘homotransphobia,’ not defined by the legislator, thus leaving enormous leeway for liberticidal interpretations and drifts, which will strike all those who will express themselves in ways not aligned with politically correct thinking. At a time when power is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, the institution of the crime of holding opinions is a further step towards the repression of dissent, of any dissent. This fact should worry everyone.”
Last Saturday, July 11, Restiamo Liberi organized one hundred public rallies in as many cities and towns throughout Italy. Participation ranged from 150 in Monza to 5,000 in Rome, revealing the degree of grassroots penetration the pro-family movement has attained. Members of the Associazione Tradizione Famiglia Proprietà, of which I am the president, participated in several rallies.
“Freedom of expression and the freedom to profess one’s religion are at stake. Anyone who cares about freedom and democracy, regardless of his religious or political beliefs, is called to support the campaign,” declared Massimo Gandolfini, leader of Family Day. “Homophobia is not an emergency, and the Zan Bill represents the dictatorship of LGBTQ that becomes law curtailing the constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of opinion,” said Antonio Brandi of Pro Vita & Famiglia.
Were the rallies a success? Will they influence Parliament? In an ever-moving world like ours, it is difficult to answer. They were obviously a success, at least in relative terms, given the circumstances. However, my personal opinion is that they will not change the course of events, at least in the short term.
Firstly, the barrier of horror against homosexuality and transgenderism is unfortunately diminishing, just as it did with birth control, divorce and abortion. The Italian public opinion is gradually deteriorating, making it even more difficult to rally support for pro-life and pro-family causes. Unless something very profound happens at the spiritual level—i.e., a conversion—this course of events will not change.
However, the immediate problem is leadership.
Italian Catholics have not received any orientation from the Vatican regarding this bill. Pope Francis has not uttered a single word. Quite the contrary, he has publicly supported some of the policies being pushed by the ruling left-wing government. In a deeply Catholic country, where the voice of the Church could have a resounding effect, this silence is extremely harmful.
The Bishops’ Conference (CEI) did issue a communiqué criticizing the Zan-Scalfarotto Bill, but in such subdued terms as to render it practically ineffective. This was not followed by any concrete action. For example, no bishops or priests appeared at the Restiamo Liberi rallies. Indeed, the parishes and Catholic associations actually avoided them. This is consistent with the “prudent” approach the CEI has adopted in relation to the government, which translates in an attitude of non-resistance to any evil coming from it. Only two bishops have come out in harsher terms warning Catholics of the ominous consequences this bill would have.
And even at the political level, there is no national figure that can coordinate these grassroots groups and turn them into a politically effective movement. There are manifold reasons for this. But perhaps this could be the subject of another article.
Reprinted from Nasz Dziennik.