Over the next few weeks, the LGBT+ Subcommittee will be interviewing some of the European Institutions’ trainees to learn about LGBT+ communities across Europe. We’ll ask trainees about everything from the laws protecting the rights of LGBT+ people, to the levels of social acceptance in their country. To kick off this week, meet our first interviewee – Matteo from Italy!
Matteo Cantoni: “Italian people are more gay-friendly and ready to legalize same-sex marriage than the politicians and governmental institutions”.
Country: Italy (Rome)
What is the situation of the LGBT Community in your country?
The LGBT situation in Italy is quite diverse across the country. Generally speaking, LGBT people living in big cities like Rome, Milan or Turin for example are far more socially accepted than those who live in little towns, both in the north and the south of the country. Big cities also have a lot of gay bars and clubs where the LGBT community can make friends and go out for a drink or party. Although there are still sporadic episodes of discrimination against LGBT people, the situation is changing. There is a more positive attitude towards LGBT people, mainly thanks to the 2016 Italian parliament approval of same-sex civil unions, some Italian TV shows talking about the lives of gay couples, as well as more and more gay-friendly parties organised in famous Italian clubs.
What are the LGBT laws like there?
After a long and endless struggle, the Italian parliament recognized same-sex couples’ civil union in 2016 but not same-sex marriage. Italy thus remains one of the last Western European countries to oppose same-sex marriage .
However, since 1947 LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the army and since 1982, any person has the legal right to change gender.
With regards to adoption, only married, opposite-sex couples are allowed to adopt, but in the last few years the Rome family court has made at least 15 rulings upholding requests for gay people to be allowed to adopt their partners’ children.
To what extent is the LGBT community accepted? Is Gay Pride celebrated?
According to the latest surveys carried out by the Pew Research Centre, 74% of Italians accept homosexuality and if we look at the difference in age, it turns out that 84%of Italian people aged between 18 and 35 completely accept homosexuality.
However, it is still not that common to see gay couples in the streets walking hand in hand although the situation is changing fast.
Gay Pride is celebrated every year in different cities across the whole country and it is often organized by the most important and largest Italian national LGBT association called Arcigay. Both LGBT and non-LGBT people usually take part in this event.
What needs to be improved?
I think there’s still much to improve. Italy has definitely made significant progress when it comes to LGBT rights and ironically it seems that Italian people are more gay-friendly and ready to legalize same-sex marriage than the Italian politicians and governmental institutions. In spite of this, Italy lacks an anti-discrimination law against homophobia outside the workplace and there are still some very conservative people against the rights of LGBT people. Being gay in Italy can be difficult, and some still struggle to come out of the closet.
Do you notice a difference between your country and Belgium?
I have the feeling that here in Belgium people are more open-minded than Italy with regards to many topics, including the LGBT issue. Traditions and religious beliefs play a less important role here in Belgium than in Italy. I think the large presence of international people also helps.
Can you recommend a good LGBT film, TV show, book or music?
I would recommend two very popular LGBT Italian films, “Le fate ignoranti” and “Mine vaganti” by Ozpetek. They’re really worth watching 🙂 .
Written by: María Aparicio
If you are interested in participating in an interview or sharing your points of view and experiences with us, write us an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.