ROME – After over 1,000 amendments to Italy’s controversial anti-homophobia bill were proposed last week, a vote on whether to pass the legislation, which has met unprecedented criticism from the Vatican, has been delayed and will likely be postponed until after the summer vacation.
After surviving some significant legal hurdles despite widespread opposition, the bill was smacked with a staggering 1,000 proposed amendments a senate discussion last week, and there is doubt as to whether lawmakers will be able to finish debating the bill.
During last week’s session, Italy’s far right Lega party proposed 700 of the 1,000 amendments, with the rest coming from other rightwing parties such as Forza Italia, and Fratelli d’Italia, as well as the Unione dei Democratici Cristiani e di Centro party.
Just 19 out of 35 planned speakers addressed the senate hall last week, but further discussion was paused so the senate could address other pressing measures that need to be dealt with before the summer break, and so far, a date has not been set for when that discussion will pick back up.
With several senators still waiting to get their word in, and with a vote pending on each of the more than 1,000 amendments, it is unlikely the senate will pick up the Zan bill again until after the August vacation.
Named after Alessandro Zan, the openly gay Italian politician who presented it, the so-called “Ddl Zan” bill seeks to impose legal penalties for discrimination based on sexual orientation and to incorporate gender theory into school curricula.
The Vatican in June made an unprecedented move against the bill by issuing a nota verbale, meaning a formal diplomatic communication, to the Italian government in objection to the bill by citing their status as a sovereign entity.
For the first time publicly known, the Vatican invoked the 1929 Lateran Pacts, which established Vatican City State as a sovereign entity and which governs relations between Italy and the Holy See, to oppose the bill on grounds that the current version was overly generic and could criminalize any articulation of Church teaching on marriage and the family.
The bill was approved by the lower chamber of the Italian parliament in November and is now before the senate. Earlier this month, Italian lawmakers voted 136-124 that the bill was not unconstitutional.
Now, each of the proposed amendments must be voted on before a vote ratifying the bill itself into law can take place.
Barring any major developments, those votes will likely be postponed until September, after the summer vacation – something opponents of the bill hope will kill the bill entirely, a fear shared by some of its advocates.
During last week’s discussion, Massimiliano Romeo, senate leader of the rightwing Lega party which presented 700 of the 1,000 amendments, implied they are still willing to negotiate, saying, “If there is dialogue, the Lega is ready to withdraw most of the amendments presented to the Zan Bill. If, on the other hand, the Democratic Party continues to want a fight, it will destroy the law and the protection of the rights of thousands of people.”
However, supporters of the bill refused the offer, with Italian Senator Elio Vito of the leftwing Forza Italia party accusing the Lega of trying crush the bill, saying that given the vast amount of proposed amendments and other steps taken to slow down the process, “it is evident that in these conditions mediations are not possible.”
Italian Senator Davide Faraone of the Italia Viva party voiced frustration with the stalling of the process, saying, “we note that unfortunately tension for the approval of the Zan bill in the Senate has eased. We have proposed the discussion as early as next week to approve the provision before the summer. We hope that all groups welcome our request positively.”
So far, Faraone’s proposal has not been accepted, and it is unlikely the bill and each of the 1,000 proposed amendments will be voted on before business as usual is suspended for the summer holidays.
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