After the great mobilization on January 23rd, Italian LGBT associations met again. On March 5th, more than 40.000 people demonstrated in Rome against the changes made to the “DDL Cirinnà”, with the will of launching a new era of freedom and equality
Harvey Milk once said that “it takes no compromise to give people their rights.” Italy made a substantial compromise, though, in order to recognize same-sex couples. The “DDL Cirinnà” was approved at the Senate on February 25th. However, major changes were made to the bill. In other words, what passed was a new law, called “maxiemendamento Cirinnà” (Cirinnà’s maxi-amendment) . As a consequence, the Italian LGBT community organized an unforgettable rally in Rome, on March 5th. “ArciGay”, “ArciLesbica”, “Famiglie Arcobaleno”, and “Circolo di cultura omosessuale Mario Mieli” were the main associations that organized, along with other 30 associations, the national demonstration called “Ora, Diritti alla Meta” (Now, Straight to the Goal). 50.000 people from all over Italy gathered in Piazza del Popolo to protest against the new bill and to demand the end of any discrimination.
What is the “maxiemendamento” about? First off, let’s review the “DDL Cirinnà”. In a nutshell, Cirinnà’s bill is the first bill that recognizes rights and duties to same-sex couples wanting a civil union. The signatory of this law is Monica Cirinnà, from the Democratic Party. The bill takes her name since she is the first petitioner. The “DDL Cirinnà” is composed of 23 articles and it’s divided in two parts. The first part establishes the civil union for homosexual couples, which is defined as “specifica formazione sociale” (specific social formation). The second part disciplines the cohabitation between two same-sex partners. Within the Italian Family Law, Cirinnà’s bill thus creates a new, specific institute for homosexual couples that is different from the institute of marriage. However, civil unions can be compared to marriage for what concerns the basic, expected rights and duties. In fact, within a civil union the two partners acquire the same rights and assume the same duties. In addition, there are mutual, mandatory fidelity and moral-material assistance. Both partners are, therefore, expected to contribute to the couple’s common needs. Lastly, in order to dissolve the civil union, there is the need of divorce. The most important point of Cirinnà’s bill is the Article number 5, which talks of the so-called “stepchild adoption”. According to it, for the non-biological parent it’s possible to adopt the spouse’s child. Even though Cirinna’s bill is not about same-sex marriage and doesn’t allow surrogacy, at least it represents the first step to give full, legal recognition to homosexual couples.
What was approved at the Senate is the “maxiemendamento Cirinnà” and not the original bill. The maxi-amendment is the result of the government agreement between the left-wing “Partito Democratico” (Democratic Party) and the right-wring “Nuovo Centro Destra” (New Center-Right). The changes that were made to the original “DDL Cirinnà” are few, but they are substantial. The senators of the right-wing party insisted on removing all the references making same-sex civil unions look like the institution of marriage between a man and a woman. As a consequence, due to the pressure of the “Nuovo Centro Destra”, the stepchild adoption and the obligation of fidelity were taken out. Furthermore, according to the maxi-amendment, same-sex civil unions can be rapidly broke with a sort of ‘fast divorce’. In other words, divorce can happen without separation period since judges are not necessary. For the rest of bill, the “DDL Cirinnà” remained the same.
(See: http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2016-02-25/italy-senate-to-ok-civil-unions-but-lgbt-groups-are-unhappy and http://www.tgcom24.mediaset.it/politica/unioni-civili-ecco-il-testo-completo-del-maxiemendamento-al-ddl-cirinna_2162113-201602a.shtml)
“CGIL”, “Telefono Rosa”, “Amnesty International”, “SEL” and “Rifondazione Comunista” joined the LGBT associations to demonstrate in favor of a civil country. Moreover, famous public figures went onstage to support the cause against the maxi-amendment. The host of the rally, the journalist and blogger Giulia Innocenzi, claimed that the changes the “DDL Cirinnà” went through represent a slap in the face, a terrible compromise. The singer-songwriter Paola Turci added that those rights that are not for everyone are just priviledges. Francesca Vecchioni said that rainbow families are not an opinion, they are a reality. And the singer Emma Marrone affirmed that the recognition of LGBTQ+ rights benefits everyone. With the motto “chi ama i diritti, li vuole per tutti” (who loves rights wants them for everyone), the Italian LGBT community organized the rally to demand full rights, and not half rights. The goal is, therefore, represented by egalitarian marriage and adoption. The “maxiemendamento” proved the right-wing’s cultural and homophobic backwardness and the left-wing’s inability to be modern and to protect people’s rights. Once again, Italian politics turned out to be really far behind compared to the people it should represent. The Italian LGBT community proved, therefore, to be able to move independently from the political agenda.
Marrone: "everyone deserves the right to be free"
Interestingly enough, the LGBT community is almost divided in half. Not everyone agreed on the purposes of the event. Some people think that the demonstration was ‘reckless’ as the new bill represents a great victory for Italy. When the Senate approved the new bill on February 25th, indeed, someone celebrated by saying that love won. No, unfortunately it’s not so. A love denied in its purest aspiration, that is parenting, is an offended and undervalued love. The approval of the maxi-amendment cannot represent a point of arrival. It can rather be conceived as the opportunity to acquire new vitality, new impetus and new strength to fight for those rights excluded from the bill. Within the square, there were mixed feelings. On the one hand, there was a sense of defeat for what hasn’t been obtained yet; on the other hand, there was a sense of joy for the small breach opened in the wall of prejudices and bigotry in Italian society. Anyhow, the rally wasn’t an event for crying or simply complaining. Of course, there were anger and disappointment, but the watchword of the square was positive and projected to the future: “straight to the goal”. That being said, on March 5th love won, as Piazza del Popolo was a square of love: love for a civil, secular and democratic society.
I was there, in Piazza del Popolo. I lived that square completely. I observed it, I perceived it, I breathed it. I felt a lot of emotions: warmth, pride, joy, union and community. The children of rainbow families made me remember why the rally was right and necessary: because children’s rights must be defended without negotiation. The atmosphere I breathed was a mixture of joy for a small success and frustration for an uncompleted victory. However, the dominant feelings of the rally were community and family, and not despair or depression. The square was a triumph of colors and people, and it was touching for me to realize that the demonstration was happening in Piazza del Popolo, the symbol of the great mass movements of the past. March 5th was a historic day for Italy, not only due to the massive mobilization but mostly for what brought in people’s hearts. It was a day of rediscovery. After the national mobilization that took place on January 23rd, many people rediscovered the meaning of being agents of change. They rediscovered pride and hope. They realized that what they accomplished, even though it’s insufficient, wasn’t reached thanks to politicians, but thanks to the tenacity of an entire community.
As the president of Gay Center Fabrizio Marrazzo explained, the “DDL Cirinnà” represents a partial answer to the claims of the entire LGBT community. It’s the first step but it’s not enough, of course. The struggle for rights continues, then. And I won’t rest until rainbow families’ children will be protected legally. I won’t rest until there will be one law, the same law, for all couples. But, in order to conquer a right, no one has to be left behind. Certainly, not the weakest ones, not children. I will keep fighting, because “who loves rights wants them for everyone”. Enough excuses, then. Enough waiting. That’s why I was there: to demand equal rights and equal duties, since equal rights sanction equality in freedom, while equal duties affirm equality in dignity. Even though I’m just a small dot in the universe, on that day I feel I reaffirmed my identity. I strengthened myself, redeeming the child who dreams and the adult who fights. At the moment, I just want to remember that day with pride, and I want to say it out loud: I was there.