“Ddl Zan”, five consonants and a vowel that form two little words without sense, two words that do not belong to any dialect of the musical language of Italy, and two little words that currently divide the country.
Ddl Zan stands for the “Disegno di legge Zan”, or the “Zan Law”. It’s named after Alessandro Zan, the Italian deputy born in Padova in the Veneto (Venice) region, and the legislator who initiated it. Law protect crimes LGBT
This legislative initiative against homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, and discrimination against the disabled was passed by the Italian Chamber of Deputies on November 4, 2020. The bill is now finding itself on a very difficult path in the Senate. Debate about the Zan Law has moved from the legislature out onto the public squares of Italy, where I attended the two main and opposing demonstrations that took place in Milan. On one side were those demanding immediate passage of the law, and on the other those strongly opposed to it.
Celebrities and politicians showed up for both protests, including the rapper Fedez who supports it. Such high profile support and opposition create even more controversy, and increase discussion of the law in popular circles and in the media.
On May 8, 8,000 people came out on a beautiful spring day in the Arco della Pace in Milan to show support the law. Fewer people showed up in the rain a week later on May 15 to protest the law in Piazza Del Duomo. However, both protests were fervent in their positions, and the debate has spilled over to include broader social issues beyond the stipulations of the Zan Law. Law protect crimes LGBT
After passing in the Chamber of Deputies, the bill sat stagnant for months in the parliamentary commission, due to obstruction from the right-wing Lega party and its representative Andrea Ostellari, president of the Justice commission. While the bill could have gone to the Senate for a vote in April, Ostellari maintained his position as sole Rapporteur to block its progress.
The proposed purpose of the Zan Law is clearly stated: the guiding principle in all its articles is to “prevent and combat discrimination and violence based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, identity of gender, and disability”. So why has the law created such deep division in Italian society? The main source of controversy concerns two articles, Article 4 and Article 1. Law protect crimes LGBT
Article 4 refers to the “pluralism of ideas and freedom of choice”. The nationalist Italian right-wing swiftly attacked this, claiming that the language constituted making a crime of having opposing opinions. As a result of this opposition, the legislature passed a modified version of Article 4 that stated that punitive actions concerning the article can be taken only in the case of a “concrete danger of discriminatory or violent acts”, and that the right to express one’s opinion will remain protected by Article 21 of the Italian constitution. The final text of the modified Article 4 further includes the “protection of ideas”, or “salva idee” clause, that states: “In accordance with this law, the free expression of beliefs or opinions is allowed, as well as legitimate conduct attributable to pluralism of ideas and freedom of choice.”
Despite the modifications of Article 4 and the introduction of the protection of ideas clause brought about by right-wing legislators, right-wing social groups nevertheless continued to express their opposition. “The Ddl Zan is a sexist and discriminatory law that aims to classify as homophobic or transphobic all dissenting voices or any manifestation based on sexual orientation inspired by the concept of a natural family formed by a mother and a father”, stated the vice president of Pro Vita & Famiglia (Pro Life and Famliy) Jacopo Coghe, “and we cannot accept that space is given to a new and ambiguous dictatorship, one much more hidden and dangerous.”
Another part of the Zan Law generating controversy is Article 1, that states that “by sex we understand biological or personal sex” and that “gender identity means the perceived and manifested identification of oneself in relation to gender, although it does not correspond to sex, regardless of having completed a transition process.” Law protect crimes LGBT
Additionally, the Zan Law would give the green light to the creation of anti-discrimination centers in Italy to protect victims. It would also proclaim May 17 as the National Day Against Homophobia, Lesbophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. This holiday would include teaching and activities in primary schools to promote a culture of respect and inclusion and counteract prejudice. Such teaching would be incorporated into national educational goals, thus requiring measurable educational outcomes. Opposition groups to the bill see the institution of the National Day Against Homophobia, Lesbophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia and its educational objectives as a cynical pretext to infiltrate the schools and indoctrinate children in gender theory.
The right-wing Lega party has aligned itself against these parts of the Zan Law, and has managed to stall it in the legislature by modifying the wording to include additional categories of protected people such as the elderly and ethnic minorities. The two different versions of the Zan Law will now have to be debated and unified before a vote take place, making its path to approval ever longer and more winding, while the social divisions around it are deepened.
President Matarella today said: “The International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia is an opportunity to reaffirm the absolute rejection of all forms of discrimination and intolerance and, therefore, to reaffirm the centrality of the principle of equality enshrined in our Constitution and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union “.
Pablo Munini , Milan , May 17 th 2021
Law protect crimes LGBT