The rightwing governor of Italy’s Lazio region has come under fire after withdrawing the administration’s support for Rome’s pride parade, saying its name could not be associated with events “aimed at promoting illegal conduct”.
Lazio, the region surrounding Rome which has been under rightwing rule since March, had planned to sponsor the LGBTQ+ event on Saturday but backed out after organisers said the support was a sign that the region had distanced itself from plans by the national government to criminalise people who seek surrogacy abroad.
Francesco Rocca, the Lazio president backed by Brothers of Italy, a party with neofascist origins led by the prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, said that while the region was committed to civil rights, it could not be linked “with events aimed at promoting illegal conduct, with specific reference to surrogacy”.
LGBTQ+ rights, and surrogacy in particular, have been a sensitive topic since Meloni’s coalition government came to power in October. Last week a parliamentary committee approved the text of a law that would criminalise Italians who go abroad to have children via surrogacy. Surrogacy, which is illegal in Italy, has been described by high-profile Brothers of Italy politicians as “a crime worse than paedophilia”.
Mario Colamarino, a spokesperson for Rome Pride, said Rocca had relented under pressure from ProVita, a Catholic anti-abortion lobby group whose spokesperson had accused the Lazio region of “schizophrenia” over its support of the parade.
ProVita embraced Rocca’s U-turn, saying it would continue to monitor his administration to ensure it did not become “a vehicle for gender and LGBT ideology”.
Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right League and a junior member of Meloni’s government, also welcomed the move, writing on Instagram: “Support for the propaganda of rented wombs? No thanks.”
The decision was met with criticism from the centre-left Democratic party, which had led Lazio for a decade before being ousted, and other opposition parties.
Riccardo Magi, the secretary of the small leftwing party Più Europa, said the move indicated that with Brothers of Italy in power, “homophobia is institutionalised”. “It is state homophobia,” he added.
Alessandro Zan, a politician with the Democratic party who is gay, said he believed Meloni, a self-described “Christian mother”, had ordered Rocca to withdraw the region’s support. “The intention is to destroy rainbow families in the name of the traditional family,” he told Corriere della Sera.
Meloni’s government has ordered local councils to stop registering the children of same-sex couples.