The Italian Senate on Wednesday blocked a controversial bill against homophobia, which the right-wing parties and the Vatican had fiercely opposed.

The "Zan" law, named after MP Alessandro Zan of the Democratic Party (PD, center-left) aimed to punish acts of discrimination and incitement to violence against gays, lesbians, transgenders and People with Disabilities.

A "black page"

But during a secret ballot called for by the far-right parties of the League and Fratelli d'Italia (FDI), the Upper House prevented by 154 votes to 131 its final adoption by Parliament, the Chamber of deputies who adopted it last November.

This bill, in a new version, cannot be presented to the Senate for six months, according to Italian parliamentary rules.

Blocking this project is “a black page for democracy and rights.

The Senate has decided to stay away from the real demands ”of the country, reacted Alessandro Zan.

Critics of the law believed that it risked endangering freedom of expression and that it would have paved the way for homosexual propaganda in schools - arguments rejected by Alessandro Zan.

"Not a denominational state"

In June, the Vatican took an unprecedented step by filing an official diplomatic complaint against the law, saying it violated the Concordat, the bilateral treaty between Italy and the Holy See. The Vatican was particularly concerned that under the Homophobia Act, Catholics risked prosecution for expressing views in favor of traditional heterosexual family structures.

In response, the head of government Mario Draghi had declared that the Parliament was "free" to legislate on this issue, because Italy "is a secular state, not a confessional state".

In Italy, a traditionally Catholic country which also hosts the Vatican on its territory, legislation on LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender) issues is particularly sensitive.

However, according to a Demos & Pi poll carried out in July, the Zan law would enjoy popular support, with 62% of Italians supporting it.


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