Current Affairs

Italian politicians attack Vatican’s ‘anti-gay’ attitude

Marc Shoffman December 11, 2006
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Left wing members of Italy’s ruling coalition have criticised the Vatican for opposing plans to allow gay couples in Padua to register their ‘family.’

Last week, Padua city council, outraged the Vatican by allowing gay and lesbian couples to register their ‘family.’ in a decision which also applies to unmarried heterosexual couples.

In Italy, a “certification of family” is required for various minor legal procedures, such as officially taking time off work to care for a sick relative or being placed on waiting lists for council houses.

Padua, the setting for Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, is the first city to extend certification to gay men and lesbians.

L’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, accused Italian politicians of “eradicating the family.”

Politicians have reacted by criticising the Vatican in the press, “It’s unacceptable that a measure aimed at ending discrimination should be threatened and condemned,” Health Minister Livia Turco told Corriere della.

Mercedes Bresso of the Democrats of the Left told the daily L’Unita: “Too often here in Italy the Church mistakes itself for the state, we’re not turning back.”

A gay MP, Franco Grillini, spoke out in favour of the decision by Padua council: “The Vatican has to get it into its head that what constitutes a family is decided by the members of that family and not by the Vatican,” he told Reuters.

Others on the right were horrified by the actions of Padua council. The city of 1.6m is the birthplace of St Anthony was traditionally thought of as a Catholic stronghold.

“This is unconstitutional because it equates the (traditional) family founded on marriage with a phantom family based on affective ties,” Riccardo Pedrizzi, head of the right-wing National Alliance party said, according to Reuters.

The new leftist coalition government of Romano Prodi has promised some form of recognition for gay rights, but there is still no sign of how much protection. What is clear is that the Roman Catholic Church will fight any attempt by the state to grant more rights to gay people.

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