Italexit -- slowly leaving rights behind

Governments and markets are concerned about a possible Italexit because of economic repercussions, but no one seems to worry about the significance of an EU withdrawal when it comes to citizen's rights.

Cinzia Sciuto
Cinzia Sciuto MicroMega, Italy
Source: MicroMega
Italexit -- slowly leaving rights behind - NewsMavens
Verona. Pexels.

Why this story matters:

It seems that Italy's arm-wrestling match with Europe about the budget law reached a truce. But in the meantime, a slow "Italexit" is taking place on the civil rights front -- and Europe is indifferent.

The League-M5S government doesn't only reject the EU's economic requirements. With the help of Catholic fundamentalists, it has also put Italy inside a time machine that has travelled backwards as far as civil rights -- and the rights of women in particular -- are concerned.

The abolition of the Ministry of Equal Opportunities and its replacement with a Ministry of the Family and the public funding of conservative organizations who want to outlaw abortion are all signals that we are witnessing the return of a religious right intent on limiting civil liberties in general. The signs are there, they are very troubling, and they should alarm Europe at least as much as matters of national debt.

Details from the story:

  • In the new government, the Ministry for Equal Opportunities has been eliminated, replaced by the Ministry for the Family and for Disabilities. The choice signals a change on the cultural and political horizons: what this government wants is not equal opportunities for its citizens, in particular between men and women, but rather to foster the specific model of the so-called traditional family, in which women take care of the home.
  • This shift in perspective was confirmed by discussions around the budget in recent weeks. Instead of considering serious policies in support of women's work and welfare, the government is leaning towards subsidizing families who will have a third child in 2019- 2021 by granting them public or abandoned land at preferential mortgage rates. Give children to the nation and the nation will repay you with land!
  • Lorenzo Fontana was appointed to lead the Ministry for the Family. An opponent of the non-existent "gender theory", which he fears would harm the traditional family, he is also against civil unions and the right to interrupt pregnancies. He is a member of the association "Committee No 194" (also supported by the fascists of Forza Nuova), which not only calls for the abolition of 194/1978 -- the law that regulates voluntary termination of pregnancy in Italy -- but also proposes to introduce prison (from 8 to 10 years) for women and doctors who practice abortions.
  • Among other recent controversies, there is a project of law on shared custody championed by Northern League senator Simone Pillon that would introduce a series of changes to the current legislation and act as a significant deterrent for couples with children. The project of law would also reverse the key principle at the heart of the current Italian divorce legislation, namely the interest of the children first.
  • Simone Pillon is a member of the Neocatechumenal Way, which is among the organizers of "Family Days". He too convinced there exists a "gender theory" conspiracy to undermine the traditional family, and he is a family lawyer who carries out the type of mediation which his project of law wants to make mandatory -- a gigantic conflict of interests.
  • There was broad mobilization against the Pillon project of law organized by Non una di meno and other feminist associations. Tens of thousands of women protested in over 50 squares on November 10. 
  • In March 2019, Verona -- Fontana's city, and the hub of the attack on women's rights -- will host the World Congress of Families, which will bring together several ultra-religious associations from all over the world.
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