Deputy PM threatens walk-out over gay rights

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Angelino Alfano, Italy's deputy prime minister and leader of the New Centre Right. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
10:55 CET+01:00
Deputy Prime Minister Angelino Alfano has threatened a government walk-out if the centre-left put gay marriage on the table, shaking the already fragile coalition government.

“If they propose gay marriage, we will go a moment before - we will hotfoot it and publicly denounce it,” Alfano was quoted in La Repubblica as saying.

The leader of the New Centre Right (NCD), a breakaway party from Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (FI), was speaking on Thursday night after prominent members of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) publicly backed gay unions.

While centre-left Prime Minister Enrico Letta has remained relatively quiet on the topic, PD leader Matteo Renzi put civil partnerships on his agenda after being elected party leader last month.

In November, the mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino, said he saw no problem with gay marriage.

READ MORE: Rome mayor supports gay marriage

But Alfano, Berlusconi’s former protégé, would not be swept up in what he sees as an overly liberal PD agenda.

“If it wasn’t for us, the left would consider it normal to legalize cannabis, gay marriage and adoption, and open the borders wide,” he said, referring also to recent debates on drug laws and overhauling the immigration system.

The deputy prime minister may however find himself in the minority, as even the conservative Vatican begins to open up to equal rights for gay and straight couples.

Last week, Pope Francis told Catholics to rethink the way they approached gay families, to reflect changes in society.

READ MORE: Pope calls for rethink on gay families

Responding to Alfano’s statement, Flavio Romani, president of the Arcigay organization, told The Local the politician was merely using gay rights as an excuse to shake the government.

“Alfano perfectly represents the drift of Italian politics, that uses rights of LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] people as an excuse to justify the fall of the government,” Romani said.

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“Gay marriage serves only to trigger the election campaign and to form a coalition of the Catholics, who are against rights for gay couples and are close to Alfano and Berlusconi.”

His words were echoed by Fabrizio Marrazzo, spokesperson for Rome’s Gay Center, who told The Local: “Alfano is only using the gay [marriage] question for propaganda. There is no more time for propaganda, a demagogue, or exploitable juxtapositions to give political colour. It’s a matter of questions to be confronted with a pragmatic approach and finally resolved."

Last year, the Italian parliament passed an anti-homophobia bill, although politicians are yet to introduce measures to allow gay couples to have civil partnerships or get married. 

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