Italy’s Senate voted last week to reject a proposed law that would give protected status against violence targeting the LGBTQ+, the handicapped, and women. By a margin of 154 to 131 on Wednesday the 315 member upper house of Italy’s parliament voted down the measure, in what one Italian EU parliamentarian called “one of the worst pages in the history of the Italian republic”.
In an unusual but not unprecedented move, the Vatican had stepped into the debate back in June by claiming the legislation would effectively be an infringement on “religious liberty,” echoing similar arguments made in the United States by religious conservatives against any protections for not only the LGBTQ+, but historically against women and racial minorities.
“…the Vatican [urged] the Italian government to change the law over concerns it would infringe upon the Catholic church’s “freedom of thought”.
Debate over the approval of the bill, which would lead to people convicted of such crimes being jailed for up to four years and permit an increase in funding for groups that work to fight against discrimination and assist people who are the victims of it, came after a series of high-profile attacks against gay and transgender people.”
Of course, Italy is not alone in its resistance to protecting the most vulnerable from targeted violence. In the United States, there is still much to be done in protecting the LGBTQ+ from hate crimes. Hate crime laws (also known as bias crimes laws) protect against crimes motivated by feelings of enmity against a protected class. Today only those states shown in purple below (22 states, plus the District of Columbia) have state laws that include sexual orientation in their hate crimes statutes. At the Federal level the Equality Act, which is currently proposed but dying in the U.S. Senate, would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity nationwide.
The Matthew Shepard Act of 2009 signed into law by President Obama made violence based on sexual orientation a Federal hate crime (used while committing a Federal crime).