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The law against homophoby again rejected in Italy

The official new is quite fresh, and the one of us eading Italian can access it at the site

http://www.ansa.it/web/notizie/rubriche/politica/2012/11/07/Bocciato-tes...

To summarize in short: yesterday, in Commissione Giustizia (the branch of Italian Chamber of Deputies in charge for justice functioning) the proposed text of a new law against homophoby has been rejected with votes from PDL (mr.Berlusconi's party), Lega Nord (a xenophobic right-wing formation allied to PDL in former government) and UDC (a catholic center party).

The battle will go on at Chamber of Deputies, and my hope is it will eventually be formulated and voted.

But in the same time I have to add this is not the first time anti-homophobic law is rejected in Italy.

The common right-wing argument is, a "special" law protecting a tiny category is not necessary, as laws against common criminal acts already exist, and it would be amply sufficient to apply them.

What really<\em> happens is, right-wing and catholic parties (even some left-wing ones) have systematically blocked any law trying to alleviate discrimination against LGBT communities. Some leaders even distinguished themselves by publicly declaring their disgust against homosexuals and "counter nature" acts.

Why this? Because this all pays, electorally.

In a country like Italy, rich but with an overall culturally underdeveloped population, it is much easier to follow mainstream fears, than to exert leadership and government. Populism, in the extreme: telling people "we, the politicians, really understand your gut feeling, share them, and know you, the common people, ir right".

And what is the big fear involving a mostly invisible and not so large community as LBGT?

I have no definite answer to such a deep question. But, allow me a personal opinion.

In Italy, the fact of pretending someone more or less "counter nature" (as some catholic fundamentalist say) is sort of a minority opinion. What really frightens many Italians is something else: the possibility that accepting homosexuality opens the way to give some worth to "feminine" values. In the mind of so many in the common people "homosexuals" are figured out as "effeminate males". It is this, as far as I understand, to make horror to so many men (and women too): to proposing "effeminacy" as a "model" makes a deep horror.

Behind this horror there is still another one, who no one has the courage to admit publicly if questioned, but which emerges as crystal clear from attitudes and implied meanings, is that femaleness should not be celebrated. On the contrary: woman, the symbolic, idealized one, should stay in her own place. Be a mindless beauty (until age allows her), and support Man, the Superior being, from the shadow, as a good wife always should.

That is, plain old, deeply ingrained misogyny.

The terror that giving the "symbolic feminine" a worth on its own would endanger the position of men, the breadwinners acting in bands out of homes.

I imagine this feeling is not specifically italian, yet it's a powerful mover here.

The problem behind is a massive gap in overall education (including the specific education on gender subjects, but not limited to this only). Stated in a different, ugly but dramatically utilitaristic terms: "obsolete and low-value human capital".

In my previous post on violence against women I stated education is necessary, although difficult.

Now I add one other point: women should not any more accept the marginal position Italian mainstream culture gives them. All people, women and men alike, have to realize how marginal and stick in the mud we actually are compared to other countries, and take a stand against this all.

In (positive) rage,

but with love,

Mauri

This story was written for World Pulse’s Ending Violence Against Women Digital Action Campaign.

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Comments

Mukut's picture

Misogynist views

Yes Mauri, you said it right- all this is done for "electoral votes" and to perpetuate the age-old belief that women and LBGTs are inferior to men and hence subordinate.

Thank you for bringing out the true picture and highlighting the outdated mindset of people of Italy.I was mostly unaware about Italian culture, and the marginal position attached to women there.

Keep it up.

Much love,

Mukut Ray

Dear Mukut,

thank you for your supportive reply!

And yes, in Italy we have a big, big, big problem with ourselves. We sould "grow", in terms of our souls and shared beliefs. Specifically, outgrow twenty years during which we have shrinked our mentality from what Italy was to the frightened, not evolving, old-minded place it is now.

Sad to say, but might the current financial/economical crisis in Europe force us to at least realign our priorities? I hope (and incidentally, I'm quite convinced we'll do sooner or later - I used the word "forced" not by chance... We are better reacting at some very evident crisis, than doind long-term planning).

But you see, "now" Italy is one of the "advanced" (what this word does mean I don't know beyond economy) coutries where women by and large are less represented, helped, considered...

Often (and this I guess is one of the cases) Italy anticipates other countries in the World.. Maybe this place has a more fragile soul, and a shorter memory, and this makes symptoms more immediately evident.

Yet, I see the underlying misogyny so blatant in Italy is so diffused worldwide. And this is not a thing conforming to the sense of justice of anyone, would any of us have just the time and the will to place in others' shoes for a little moment.

Some people do this naturally, spontaneously, and this is a beautiful thing. Trying to co-feel (?) (pardon my non-English, I had no other word to express the idea) is where, eventually, where hope comes from. It's a bit sad, that those who do this, as you said in your (wonderful!) presentation, will say of themselves they're "idealist". Sure they are, but in the noblest sense. May one of our challenges be changing the way "idealist" and "dreamer" is perceived from today's "beyond hard reality" to "future-shapers"? After all it is who dreams that changes things for the best. Bare, self-centered pragmatism just does damage, left on its own, not counterbalanced.

I so agree with your dream.. An equitable World, where all people are considered for their humanity, which us all have in common, and of which so little we know, having for centuries been mis-led towards other constrictive self images (man/woman, heterosexual/homosexual/asexual/..., black/white, upper/lower). We all are unique, unrepeatable. Souls and minds before any other thing.

I feel that if we all envision us and others as human beings first and foremost and only, than misogyny, xenophoby, racism, ..., all would vanish in a resounding pluff.

As you say, we can!
And this will be, sooner or later.
(Hopefully "sooner" ;-) )

Hugs

Mauri

Antego2010's picture

ignorance

i have such wonderful pictures of Italians in my head that i find it hard to believe that such a country that comes off as being open is so back-dated towards equal gay rights, why do they even have to refer to it as homophobic!! i consider that insulting, bunch of fat, corrupt, selfish hypocritical asses who are just looking for plaudit. Too chicken hearted to face real issues and vote without fear, i might be able to relate a little bit because Italy is such a deeply religious and traditional country and these law makers are not willing to step on anyone's toes.....tnk u for opening my eyes to issues like this mauri..... truth is your country is still better than mine. Nigeria has a law that sentences anyone who practices homosexual conduct to 14 years in jail. Anything outside of the death penalty still beats the harsh and inhuman treatment meted out on gay people around the world

Mauri's picture

Thank for your courage and support!

Dear Antego,

I have to thank you for your warm and inspiring answer. And for having shared the terrible problems homosexual people face in Nigeria - sure of much a larger extent than in Italy.

In my opinion (a strong one) and feelings (strong, too) Italy is a wonderful place with a heart some of whose facets are lightless. There is much people who is open-minded. There is, also, a sort of natural grace in places and their inhabitants. A kindness, with an ability to put places in their right perspective. I know most of our people is like so..

And meanwhile there are the dark facets. A deep homophoby is one. Religion has had its role, in such a deeply ingrained Catholic country. Or, the fear so diffuse among fragile men that showing their human qualities labeled "feminine" would prove they are "not virile enough". I imagine there is a plenty of fragile people, especially now, with the financial crisis eroding the expectations of everyone about future wealth.

But, should we accept this? I agree with your resounding "no". In my mind, as far as I can understand with intellect and feelings, each of us humans has their own unique path, and what society should do would be to allow everyone to find it, and follow it. These paths might seem so different, on a first glance. But they intersect, bifurcate, join again. As more you go on your true path, the more you realize there are so many others in the nearby.

Maybe, as mr.Nelson Mandela often says, because we humans are humans. Fundamentally similar, in billions different ways.

"Obvious", isn't it? But this "simple" thing is a deeply revolutionary idea. Taking a stand in its favor demands a big act of courage - the same, I see, you so publicly and strongly take.

Hugs

Mauri

Antego2010's picture

Yes

I am catholic.....a praying catholic.....I love my rosary and I always try to find new ways of making my relationship wit God better....but I must evolve......the church trys so desperately to cling to all of its old ways....banning abortion,banning the use of family planning,banning any same sex relations.....refusing to change some old laws....as long as the church clings to these norms.....the followers who look up to the Pope for guidance will always follow those teaching and refuse to speak against any of the laws dat do not favour the church.....right there is where the problem of homophobic laws around the world lies

Mauri's picture

Integralism, and bare interest

Just today I've read of aggression to Femen activists in France, by Civitas, an extreme right-wing integralist catholic group. The aggression occurred within a march against homosexual marriage promoted by Civitas. They maintain "homosexual marriage is the cover of a Pandora's box whose disclosure will pave the way to polygamic or incestuous marriage". And decidedly, they do not appreciate irony by people with different opinions, like the Femen who presented themselves disguised as nuns.

The bug, I see, is not necessarily in religion itself, but the way people with vested interests or dogmatic opinions interpret it. Nowhere in the Gospel it is written "beat or kill your fellow creatures because they do not follow my truth". Quite on the contrary, in the Gospel you find only words of love. It is the stone-blind, insensitive heart of many who rewritten the Scriptures in their own image and interest.

It is the all present desire, by those who hold power, to control life in all its form - and the female body as a dangerous incarnation of it. (A dangerous incarnation, if we look further, of something well inside their own souls, something "human" they strive to subdue at any cost).

I wonder whether that mental paraphernalia are really necessary to a grown-up culture. In my opinion and feeling, they are of course not. There is something simpler, maybe. Just reading the Gospel, and allowing it to move and carry our hearts?

I feel if a hope of change exists, it is in people like you who carry new, powerful dreams. So keep on!

Hugs

Mauri

Antego2010's picture

Change

Change is scary.......we reject it with passion and all that we hold dear because we refuse to take a risk or to open our minds to the possibilities that the dynamics of change can bring into our lives.These traditional,catholic extremist....they carry fear,hypocrisy and hate in their heart....all of which are unhealth and un-christian characteristics....its sad to know that there are people who have made it their lives mission to ensure that others do not enjoy the same rights as them or hapiness.

jap21's picture

Hi Mauri

How I missed you my dear Mauri! Reading you again makes me feel proud of being a woman. It makes me, as you said, evolve into someone better.

I read in a wall the other day: "I don´t love you only because of who you are, but because of who I am when I am with you". My friend, I love you in sisterhood like that.

Keep writing, keep raising your voice that makes us all, be better persons.

Love,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

Mauri's picture

Dear, I'm again here

Oh, Jacqueline, my dear sister, you are so generous as always!

And, I may say the same of you, and your words. They inspired me, in numberless occasions, to look forward, deeper, and with a compassionate eye. This was not too natural to me, initially. But thank to you, I learned!

I now feel it is marvellous how far we can go, by not constricting ourselves in our tiny shell. How many wars would have been avoided, if only people did speak to each others?

A big hug

Mauri

Shelley Megquier's picture

Thank you

Bringing discrimination against LGBT people into the conversation on ending VAW is so important, Mauri. I really appreciate your post and think the way you link violence against women and bigotry against gay people is right on. The root of VAW is gender inequality and patriarchy, and VAW is perpetuated by dominant forms of masculinity which favor 'tough' 'macho' men and paint women as weak and inferior. Bias against gay and lesbian people is similarly rooted in holding up one gender construction/identity/sexuality as superior and judging any expression of self and sexuality that deviates from that norm as inferior. Yuck. Equal rights for all!
In solidarity from the US,
Shelley

Mauri's picture

Thank you for your wise, thoughtful words!

An important point is to show men how the patriarchal mindset works against them, too. We born all human. Then pressures demand us to mold ourselves in machos or coquettes by switching off some of our brain circuitry intentionally. Being a "macho man" is no less caricatural than any other imaginable reduction of our human potential - ironically with the added vulnerability of having to act in total docility to inhuman dictates, meanwhile imagining themselves as "strong", and because of this deprived to the possibility to assess how fragile, dependent and vulnerable they actually are.

This all - the patriarchal mindset - should end. And could, as well. We have absolutely no need of it. Our real "mission", as living intelligent creatures, could be to grow, thrive and realize our full potential, in a spirit of connection. The patriarchal mindset is definitely an impediment to this purpose...

Violence is built into patriarchy. It's a critical point of it, the primary way of enforcing something deeply "in-human". Hence its dividing "us" from "them", its sorting out "superior" from "inferior" on arbitrary basis. Of making an "other" and turning it into a "target".

Really, I feel no human has any need for all this.

Love

Mauri

Shelley Megquier's picture

Well said! :)

Well said!
:)

Kadidia's picture

Discrimination in Italy

Mauri,

The situation in Italy sounds so common.
Discrimination is found everywhere and at each level of the society. Empowerment is the venue for communities to fight for their rights.

Societies need to accept the 21st century ideals of fairness and equality.

Thank you for describing the situation in Italy showing that such circumstances happen everywhere in the world and not only in certain parts as one may believe.

Kadidia

Kadidia Doumbia

Mauri's picture

The problem is really universal

Dear Kadidia,

I agree with an important thing you pointed out: the problem is universal, or at least dramatically widespread. Sure differences exist: for example, women condition in Northern Europe is (or at least is said to be) far better than in the rest of Europe.

Fairness and equality could be a cultural answer, worldwide. These words are really revolutionary by the way. At least here in Italy, after more than 20 years of conditioning favoring an individualism so extreme and pointless that the whole texture of society did suffer. A part of our problems come from right this: having forgotten for a long time equality, fairness, compassion, long-term thinking, embracing in the meanwhile rugged (and pretended) autonomy, the merciless aspiration to get rich in the shortest time possible with the minimum effort, and delegating all important decisions to an autocrat who supposedly knows what the best interest of everyone is (that is, corrupting their souls to the bone and making them slave).

Powerful revolutionary words indicate a revolution. I guess "this" revolution will be different from other violent outburst we all have seen in the past. It will be made in kindness. Day after day. Gaining support. A revolution which, for the first time, will not be "fought" in the normal sense. Yet, no less powerful.

The first signs of this kind revolution are around us..

They are universal, as you rightly say.

So, dear sister, thank you for your inspiring words!

Hugs

Mauri

Kadidia's picture

Universality

Hello Mauri,

Let's stay positive for a better future. And don't give up, never give up hope. Together we will prevail.

Kadidia

Kadidia Doumbia

Mauri's picture

United, no difficulty will stop us.

Troubles may be very large.
But all together, united, we'll overcome them!

In Italy, working on union, rebuilding the threads of our society, is a way to go.

We go!

Love, and peace

Mauri

nusrat1977's picture

Any form of discrimination should end!

Dear Mayuri,
Thank you for your write up about the discrimination against LGBT people in Italy in EVAW campaign. To me, no discrimination should exist. Each of us are born as human. No body has any right to discriminate anyone, whatever could be the basis. Every human being deserves to be loved and respected irrespective of his/her education or socio-economic state or marital status or orientation or sex/country/race/religion. Why do people forget this? But undoubtedly all these tiny voices will make a bigger noise and bring out a fairer society and a better place for everyone to live in, with love and with peace.
Much love
Nusrat

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. ..........Hellen Keller

Mauri's picture

Many little drops make an ocean

Dear, thank you for your reply, and support.

I fully agree with you: many tiny voices together may do a powerful, peaceful voice able to transform old and injust habits.

And we'll do, day after day!

As Gandhi said: with perseverance and example, we may cover infinite distance.

Love

Mauri

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