The Italian LGBTQ community still faces challenges that shouldn’t even be an issue in 2021. In the past ten years, activists and organizations managed to accomplish changes and implement new rules for LGBTQI+ rights in Italy. Now, adoption is a conversation topic, while before it was just an utopia.
However, a utopia that continues to stand is marriage. The law hasn’t caught up with 2021 or with society. And the road to equality is long for LGBTQI+ rights in Italy.
The law’s perspective
So, what does the law say? To understand it nowadays, it’s useful to look back.
The before times
Before 1861, Italy wasn’t even a unified country. But it united in the punishment of any sensual or sexual acts between men. These were prohibited unless said acts happened in private and they were consensual. In some states of the not-unified Italy, laws punished sexual acts unless they led to procreation.
Then, the country unified and, in 1889, it established the Code Zanardelli. This code abolished any inequality in treatment when it came to sexual acts. So, gay and lesbian couples could have relationships, even if they didn’t lead to procreation. Hence, homosexuality wasn’t illegal anymore.
Sounds like equality, doesn’t it? In theory. Then, Fascism took over with the 1930 Codice Rocco. In fact, Mussolini re-introduced the concept of punishment for homosexual acts, especially if it was public. That counted even for kissing, which was only approved in someone’s privacy. However, the punishment wasn’t harsh. That’s because Mussolini believed there weren’t many Italian homosexuals.
After Fascism died with the end of World War II, not many things changed. In fact, the Codice Rocco is still the Italian penal code. Plus, there is no law against discrimination. While the Italian Constitution promotes equality, there is no law against crimes done with prejudice.
The modern times for LGBTQI+ rights in Italy
So, there is no aggravating factor for hate crimes against the LGBTQI+ community in Italy -which couldn’t even donate blood until 2001. And transgender people can’t join the army.
Plus, there is no law against conversion therapy. It’s discouraged, but not illegal.
On the other hand, gender reassignment has been legal since 1982, but with a few catches. Anyone who desires to undergo this surgery has to ask for permission from the court. After the approval, the person has to undergo physical and psychological evaluations. Then, the reassignment has to be formalized at the registry office for the change of gender and name. Indeed, a long and complicated procedure (on purpose?).
On the other hand, marriage is illegal. Instead, Italian politicians created “same-sex unions” in 2016. These are civil ceremonies in front of the mayor or an authorized elected official. These unions are legal, just like cohabitation has. In theory, this gives LGBTQ couples the same rights as heterosexual ones.
What about adopting?
However, that’s not true when it comes to adoption. Couples have a difficult time recognizing (legally) their biological kid. And the adoption process isn’t easy -and it is stuck in a 1983 law.
LGBTQ couples can adopt if one e of them has a familiar bond to the minor or the child is the biological kid of one of the partners. Finally, LGBTQ couples can adopt an orphan or a child with disabilities. A 2021 Court ruling recognized adoptions abroad. But not a foreign surrogate mother. So, the couple can adopt abroad and the child becomes an Italian citizen.
A step forward, indeed. But it’s only one in a road that is miles and miles long. And those miles amount to thousands of steps for the LGBTQI+ rights in Italy. Perhaps the support of celebrities like Raffaella Carrà can help win the fight.