Italy’s prime minister Mario Draghi has rejected Vatican efforts to interfere with the passage of an anti-discrimination law.
There was widespread outrage among LGBT+ groups in Italy when it emerged that the Vatican had stated its opposition to the proposed law, which would extend anti-discrimination protections to women, LGBT+ people and those with disabilities.
In a letter to the Italian ambassador to the Holy See, Vatican foreign minister Paul Gallagher claimed the law – dubbed the Zan law after the politician who drafted it – would breach a 92-year old treaty between the Vatican and Italy.
But Draghi issued a firm rebuke to the Vatican during an address to the country’s Senate on Wednesday (23 June).
“Ours is a secular state, not a religious state,” Draghi said, according to Reuters.
He went on to tell politicians that Italy already has checks and balances in place to make sure new laws are meeting international legal obligations.
“Our legal system contains all the guarantees to ensure that laws always respect constitutional principles and international commitments, including the concordat with the church,” he added.
Roberto Fico, speaker of the lower house, also pushed back against Vatican meddling on Wednesday, telling state broadcaster RAI: “Parliament is sovereign and won’t accept interference.”
The Vatican tried to intervene after the anti-discrimination law stalled in the Senate
While the bill passed through the lower house in November 2020, it has since stalled in the Senate.
Arcigay, an Italian LGBT+ rights organisation, told PinkNews on Tuesday (22 June) that the government must “defend the principles of secularism that inspire our democracy”.
“The task of our country is to protect Italian citizens from violence and discrimination, and this duty, in the face of daily attacks and violence that LGBT+ people suffer, cannot be questioned by foreign states, much less from a theocratic state like the Vatican,” said Gabriele Piazzoni, general secretary of Arcigay.
The Vatican was condemned by other LGBT+ rights organisations, as well as an atheist group, for its efforts to stop the law being passed.
The Catholic Church has remained firm in its opposition to any advancements in LGBT+ rights over the years, and continues to insist that homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered”.
The Vatican’s already troubled relationship with the LGBT+ community plunged into deeper crisis earlier this year when it banned blessings for same-sex couples.