Oscar-winning actress Julianne Moore – who is currently world tour promoting lesbian movie Freeheld – has spoken out in support of the LGBT community in Italy, after being asked by a reporter whether it was right for same-sex couples to raise a child together.
Having a family is a matter of human rights. Everyone should have the right to have a family. People taking care of each other, that’s what it means to be a family.”
Italy is the last Western European country, which has no legal recognition for cohabiting same-sex couples.
In recent months, the Italian Senate has begun debating a bill to legalise same-sex civil unions last month.
And despite facing fierce opposition in the Catholic country, it is expected to pass.
Amid a debate around same-sex civil unions, a group a senators proposed prison sentences for gay couples who use overseas surrogates.
Anti-gay rights demonstrations, including one named a “Family Day”, have taken place across the country as well.
This year, Italy has seen a number of city officials – including the Mayor of Rome –officially recognise the weddings of gay and lesbian couples overseas, despite threats from the government not to do so.
However, they will now be forced to stop doing so, and to strip existing same-sex spouses of their legal rights.
This ruling comes after Italian Interior Minister, Angelino Alfano took the issue to the Council of State – Italy’s highest administrative court.
Last year my circular banning the transcription of gay marriages contracted abroad drew controversy, sometimes even violent aggression and a hail of appeals.
Now the Council of State has borne me out entirely: marriage between two people of the same sex is not contemplated under Italian law, therefore the transcriptions made by local mayors are illegal and monitoring is the competence of the prefect. Very good.”
Italy has poor provisions for LGBT people party due to the strong influence of the Catholic Church, with no country-wide recognition of same-sex couples at present.
A civil unions bill was recently tabled in the country’s Parliament, but is yet to come to a vote. Same-sex marriage has been emphatically ruled out.
The new proposed law would offer some, but not all, of the benefits of marriage.
Included in the law would be partial pension rights, automatic inheritance and would enable same-sex partners to adopt each other’s children, if the child only has one legal parent.
However, some have slammed it as a poor compromise.
Italy is a country is not really known for its support of same-sex couples. But it would appear we’ve found a new champion in the actor Sabrina Ferilli, who is seeking to change the perception of lesbians in a country where homosexuality is often depicted in negative terms.
Ferilli is starring in Io e Lei (She and I), a romantic comedy released in cinemas this week that depicts what critics are calling a “normal” lesbian relationship.
Fabrizio Marrazzo, a LGBT rights campaigner with the campaign group Arcigay, reported
It is an important movie that is speaking to society and politicians, and it’s saying that there aren’t rights for gay and lesbian couples. Sabrina Ferilli is a real female symbol in Italy. It’s important she has this role so that people understand that lesbians don’t come from another planet.”
Marrazzo adds, noting that gay and lesbian people in Italian films are usually characterised in very stereotypical ways, with men looking feminine and women looking butch.
Ferilli has compared her decision to take on the role to Tom Hanks’s decision to play a gay man with Aids in the 1993 film Philadelphia. Hanks was the first box office star to play a gay man and won an Oscar for his portrayal of a sick lawyer who sued his firm for discrimination.
An article in Italian daily La Stampa said that the value of Io e Lei, a film by Maria Sole Tognazzi, was that it would not scare people, but instead “entered on tiptoe” in a country that regards same-sex relationships as deeply controversial.
It has also been noted that the film “minimises the erotic sphere”, and has been called the “anti-Blue is the Warmest Colour” – the critically acclaimed French film about a lesbian relationship, which contained several graphic sex scenes.
Ferilli told La Stampa
I was caught by the idea of a story of two women who love each other, with total communion of feelings. I never turn away from battles. We live in a country that is bigoted, that leaves people on the street, with no solutions, particularly those who are considered not normal.”
The film’s release comes as Italian lawmakers are gearing up for a potentially controversial vote this month that would offer same-sex couples the right to a civil union.
Italy is now the only major western European country that does not recognise such partnerships.
Matteo Renzi, the centre-left prime minister, has vowed since he came to power last year to pass legislation offering same-sex couples the right to civil unions, but he has struggled to find a willing majority to push the law through.
The proposal faces tough opposition from Catholic groups and conservative parties.
Italy is facing international pressure to act following a July ruling by the European court of human rights that found the country did not offer adequate legal protection and recognition to same-sex couples.
Marrazzo, the gay rights campaigner, said a majority of Italians do support civil union rights – about 80% – although support wanes when people are asked whether LGBT couples ought to be allowed to adopt children.
Marrazzo sees the release of Io e Lei as a good step, even if the real battles ahead cannot be left only to “fiction”.
The Italian women’s cup final has been called off as a result of alleged comments by Felice Belloli, the president of the county’s amateur football association, referring to female players as a “bunch of lesbians”.
Brescia were due to play Tavagnacco last weekend, but the match has been scrapped, the association representing female players and coaches, has confirmed.
Belloli allegedly made the comments when discussing funding for women’s football in Italy. At a meeting of the Lega Nazionale Dilettanti he is alleged to have said:
That’s enough, we can’t always talk about giving money to this bunch of lesbians.”
Belloli was quick to deny making the comments, making a statement to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
I never signed those minutesCan you see my signature on them? No, and I can tell you why – because minutes can be taken and amended by anybody. I know how the minutes are taken at the LND. All I am saying is that I did not utter that phrase.”
Patrizia Panico, the veteran Verona and Italy forward, said that if the comments were accurate then they were “sexist, male chauvinist and ignorant”.
Luisa Rizzitelli, president of Italy’s national association for female athletes, said:
To be honest I thought it was a joke but when we realised it wasn’t a joke we immediately wrote to the federation to ask for an immediate investigation. It’s hugely damaging. We have a women’s football movement with 11,000 athletes in Italy, you can imagine we have one million playing men’s football. All the players have said to the federation that they don’t want to play the final, so now the game is not going ahead. If he (Belloli) resigns the game could still be played.”
An court has for the first time recognised the legal status of a child born to a lesbian couple in a ruling, made public yesterday, that challenges the country’s official stance on marriage only being between a man and a woman.
Italy, where the Roman Catholic church still has a great influence on politics, does not allow same-sex marriage or civil partnerships. However, in recent months some courts and town councils have begun to recognise the validity of same-sex marriages contracted abroad.
The appeals court in Turin ruled that the birth of the child, conceived by artificial insemination and born in Barcelona to a Spanish and Italian lesbian couple, should be transcribed into the official records of the town where the Italian woman lives.
The ruling gives Italian citizenship to the child, who was born in 2011, and means it can come to Italy to be with the mother, who is now divorced from her Spanish ex-wife.
Same-sex marriage is legal in Spain and a Barcelona court gave joint custody to both women.
The Turin court’s ruling, which was issued in October but only made public on Wednesday, overturned a 2013 verdict that the birth could not be legally recognised in Italy.
The appeals court said it was acting in the “exclusive interests of the child, who has been brought up by two women which the (Spanish) law each recognises as its mother”.
Their has been an outcry in Italy after teacher says she was sacked for being a lesbian. The report has sparked the Italy’s Education Minister – Stefania Giannini to promise an inquiry into the claim, that a female teacher was forced out of her job because she is gay.
“If it’s confirmed that we’re dealing with a case related to discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, we will act with appropriate severity”
Her removal from the state-funded Institute of the Sacred Heart in the northern town of Trento has angered equality campaigners and focused attention once again on the country’s record on gay rights.
Mother Libratore issued a statement denying that the teacher had been sacked. But her account seemed to reinforce the suggestion that she lost her job on account of her sexual orientation.
“Rumours reached me that she was lesbian and I spoke with her about it in order to understand if she had personal problems. If you’re a lesbian, you say so. If she’s hiding it, I want to understand if there are problems, how she intends to conduct herself, because I’m responsible for 1,000 students and 137 staff; I have educational responsibilities. She didn’t even reply and she left.”
The teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper:
“I taught at the school for five years, with no problems; in fact, the director and the parents were enthusiastic about my work. Last Wednesday I saw the headteacher, assuming it was about a new contract, but instead she began with strange questions… whether it was true that I had a girlfriend and if I was a lesbian. Of course, I refused to answer – I felt offended by her questioning something that was so private.”
Many Italian ministers have spoken up in support of the unfair dismissal including Enrico Lillo, the regional president of Silvio Berlusconi’s right-wing Forza Italia party, also attacked the teacher’s treatment.
“To have to learn that in 2014 a teacher has been fired for reasons linked to her sexual orientation is completely unacceptable,”
This surprising new adherence by some Italian conservatives to the cause of lesbian and gay equality may have been prompted by Mr Berlusconi’s own volte-face on the issue.
For years Mr Berlusconi’s party has blocked attempts to introduce civil partnerships for same-sex couples. However, in June this year the disgraced three-times premier surprised campaigners by announcing that he was now joining the battle for lesbian and gay rights.
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