Italy may seem a modern country to most; we have arts, a semi-decent system of transportation, we dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic in a somehow efficient way and have won a bunch of international competitions in 2021. What do we have to envy the rest of Europe, you may ask.
Basic human rights.
That’s right. We do not have basic human rights for most of the population when it comes to violence and targeted aggression. LGBTQA+ and queer people, disabled people and women do not make a protected category against violence. We cannot say we have been attacked for being what we are – queer, disabled, a woman – as an aggravating circumstance.
If I were to walk down the street with a very popular rainbow bag (the one that is sold in Danish cheap stores, if you know what I mean) and were hit, attacked, or insulted because of it, I would not fall under a protected category. This would happen even if there was indisputable proof that the attack was of a, let’s say, homophobic nature.
If a person was attacked because of their race, the aggressor would encounter a higher penalty because of the race factor. This is because the government recognizes a category as in need of more protection than others. In the case of queer people, there are no higher penalties because queer people are not recognized as a category that needs protection more than others.
It would be just as if a cis, white, straight, abled man was walking down the street and somehow got punched for no reason. Hate, homophobia, misogyny, they are no reason for the government.
In addition, there is no recognition of LGBTQA+ existence in school. A bill that doesn’t protect, say, trans kids – wait, not even protect but acknowledge trans kids – can make it impossible for them to attend school. Teachers would be allowed to use their deadname, shame them, let alone educate themselves or the other kids in the class to show respect and acceptance. Especially in a country where the catholic Church owns many institutions.
I am also a firm believer in education and culture. If we teach people respect in schools, if we teach about our differences and how we can still all live peacefully together, then there would be no need for just punishments. Punishments, like prison, don’t really work. We cannot punish people for not knowing what the State has failed to teach them in the first place.
The reality is, queer people cannot even get married. We can get our status recognized (more like a de-facto), but we cannot adopt children, we cannot conceive children in the case of a lesbian marriage, we cannot adopt our partner’s pre-existent children. This would mean that we cannot even pick our kids up at school on any occasion without the other partner allowing us by noticing the school. We don’t even need to file for a divorce, simply an annulment.
In the past two years, a bill has been discussed many and many times, over and over again, bringing the queer discourse up in the parliament and on tv more than it has ever been discussed in the past twenty years. I have never seen politicians talking more passionately about gay people than I have in the recent past. Had they been talking positively, I would be joyful. But I cannot say they have. Like great populists, they (I am using the general they because I do not feel represented by almost any of the politicians in charge today; the political party does not matter when it comes to this situation) created an unrealistic enemy, this teoria gender (literally, gender theory… theory of what, you might ask, and you’d find me asking myself the very same question) that is supposedly being taught in schools, to maybe convert every straight kid into a gay one or to maybe vote for a left-wing party, it is unclear at this time. But it worked. Put “gay” and “children” and “theory” in the same sentence and you’ll have all the uneducated, middle-aged people by your side. I asked some of the people I know to explain this teoria gender, and they could not really say anything except that it was wrong and terrifying. And it is, oh, it is so wrong in so many ways.
It came to no surprise that the bill was sunk on Wednesday, October 27th. But what really hurt the entire queer, disabled population, our allies and most women, was the cheerful celebration that came with it. All the men that voted against the bill – everyone did so in secret – gave their best football fan impersonation by screaming, exulting and celebrating. Like we had won something. Like the loss of an opportunity to gain human rights was something we should pour champagne for.
The people rose, for one night and some days after. Beautiful pictures can be found of Milan that same night, where people got out in the street, indignant, in the dark holding lights. I went to the protests near my city. I heard the people talk, I heard their anger, I saw their tears. I clapped my hands so hard but the sound of it only reminded me of the one from the parliament. “Applauses that hurt like knives”, a girl wrote on her sign. They did, but somehow I do not want to give them that satisfaction.
I do not want them to see me hurt.
I want them to see me angry.
Because that’s what I am. I am angry I still have to wake up in a country that doesn’t recognize me as a human being. As a being worthy of protection. As a being worthy of love. Of marital rights. Of reproductive rights. I am reminded once more that I am not seen. The anger rises again and again, especially at all those people that idolize my country because of its aesthetic and feeds the bellies of those in charge.
My country is not a beautiful scenario of wineries, Vespas and old Roman ruins.
My country is a mess, full of corruption and a terrifying nostalgia of the past. A past that is not so far away in history, and that should have taught us what not to be. Instead, it is still here to haunt us.
Instead of going forwards, we are going backwards.
I will not let hate and fear control my life. I have never let it so far.
And I will not be chased out of my country.
I am angry, but I am here to stay.
Dear Italy, it’s not me, it’s you.
About the author:
I am a lesbian intersectional feminist who loves to read books and write thoughts down; I mostly travel around in search of new adventures and cultures to learn from!