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article imageGay Pride colours Rome despite Italy lurch to the right

By Terry DALEY (AFP)     Jun 9, 2018 in World

Thousands of people took to the streets of Rome on Saturday to celebrate Gay Pride just days after Italy's new families minister caused a storm by saying that homosexual families do not legally exist.

The annual march in the Italian capital comes at a tense time in the country after a coalition government took power including the far-right, nationalist League party, which has a long history of anti-gay rhetoric.

"It's very important that we're here, because we need to respond and show that it's not true that we don't exist," said Andrea, 27.

"We're people who can have families, and when we say family all we mean is love."

Lorenzo Fontana, 38, was sworn in as Minister for Families and the Disabled on June 1 alongside other members of government formed by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the League.

In an interview with major daily Corriere Della Sera the next day, Fontana responded to a question about how his ministry would deal with families with homosexual parents, referred to in Italy as "rainbow families".

Revellers kissed during the parade in downtown Rome
Revellers kissed during the parade in downtown Rome
Vincenzo PINTO, AFP

"Rainbow families exist, do they?" he replied, before qualifying his statement by saying that Italian law does not recognise such families.

Legislation allowing same-sex civil unions came into force in Italy in June 2016, but a provision that would have granted non-biological parents some parental rights was removed at the last minute in order to get the law passed.

Italian law only allows heterosexual couples access to fertility treatments. However a Turin city council in April registered the birth of the son of a lesbian couple, who was conceived via IVF in Denmark.

Last month the city also registered the birth of another child of a same-sex couple.

Speaking at the parade, Michela, 43, said she travelled from Rome to Denmark to conceive via IVF and she and her partner now have a seven-year-old daughter.

Italy’s Family and the Disabled Minister Lorenzo Fontana is a member of the far-right  nationalist...
Italy’s Family and the Disabled Minister Lorenzo Fontana is a member of the far-right, nationalist League party
Alberto PIZZOLI, AFP/File

"She (her daughter) is big enough now that she can hear things and understand," she said.

"These are heavy, hard days. It seems like we're going backwards rather than forwards. It's really tiring."

Fontana is a League politician and comes from the right of the party.

In 2016 he spoke at a meeting of a pro-life association about how gay marriage, gender theory and "mass immigration" were all working together to "cancel out our community and our traditions".

But Raffaele and Simone, who are from Rome and have a 14-month-old daughter called Daniella, said they are tax-paying citizens and should have the same rights as everyone else.

"We exist, and we should be looked after. The state takes our money and that means we exist," said Raffaele.

"We have been together for 11 years and we wanted to start a family, so we went abroad, to Las Vegas. We come home with her and the state doesn't recognise our existence," added Simone.

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