Italy’s new conservative Families Minister had his site hacked with ads for sex drugs

Lorenzo Fontana, Italy's new Minister for Families and Disabilities who has made negative statements about gay families and reproductive rights, was targeted by hackers who inserted adverts for erectile dysfunction remedies into the search results for his website.

Italy's new conservative Families Minister had his site hacked with ads for sex drugs
Italy's Minister for Families and Disabilities, Lorenzo Fontana of the League. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The attack, known as a pharma hack, placed ads for an anti-impotence drug in the description of Fontana's official website when it appeared in Google search results. 

The problem appeared to have been fixed by Monday afternoon. The minister's homepage itself was not affected.

An ally of Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and like him one of the right-wing populist League party's appointments to Italy's new cabinet, Fontana was already causing controversy after less than 24 hours in office.

A conservative Catholic, the newly appointed minister told an interviewer that same-sex parents “don't exist at the moment, as far as the law is concerned” and said he believed in “natural” families with one mother and one father. He also said that he would try to reduce the number of abortions carried out in Italy, including by giving doctors greater liberty to try and dissuade women from seeking them. 

READ ALSO: The long road to legal abortion in Italy – and why many women are still denied it

A Sicilian woman marches with a banner saying 'Free to choose'. Photo: Francesco Villa/AFP

Before becoming minister Fontana participated in anti-abortion rallies, including one at which he told the crowd that gay marriage, changing attitudes to gender and mass immigration were helping to “wipe out our community and our traditions”. He has expressed admiration for President Vladimir Putin's Russia, where the state outlaws the public defence of homosexuality and where hate crimes are rife, and said that European women should have more children.

While Salvini said that his ally's views were not reflected in the new government's programme, Fontana's comments drew a fierce response from rights activists, who responded with the hashtag “noi esistiamo” (“we exist”) on social media. Pop star Tiziano Ferro, who came out as gay eight years ago, wrote on Instagram that: “I don't want support, it would be enough for me to no longer feel invisible.”

Italy was one of the last Western nations to recognize civil unions between gay partners and offers them fewer legal rights than many of its European neighbours, including Catholic Portugal and Spain.

While Italy does not guarantee same-sex couples the right to jointly adopt children or stepchildren, in a landmark move this year, the city of Turin allowed children conceived by artificial insemination or surrogacy to be legally registered to both same-sex parents. Some local authorities have also recognized joint adoptions carried out abroad.

Meanwhile abortion has been legal in Italy for the past 40 years, but many women are still unable to access the procedure due to a clause that allows doctors to refuse to carry it out on the grounds of conscientious objection. According to health ministry figures, just over 70 percent of gynaecologists in Italy refuse to perform abortions, a rate that has risen over the past ten years.


Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP


Italy’s hard right set for election victory after left-wing alliance collapses

An Italian centre-left election pact broke down on Sunday just days after it was formed, leaving the path to power clear for the hard-right coalition.

Italy’s hard right set for election victory after left-wing alliance collapses

The alliance between Italian centre-left parties was left in disarray on Sunday night, potentially meaning a landslide victory for the hard-right coalition at early general elections in September.

The leader of the centrist Azione party withdrew support for the left-wing coalition led by the Democratic Party (PD) just five days after the two joined forces, saying it could not work with left-wingers brought in to boost the alliance.

Carlo Calenda, leader of Azione, withdrew his support on Sunday after PD made another pact with smaller left-wing parties including the radical Sinistra Italiana, and new green party Europa Verde.

“You cannot explain (to voters) that to defend the constitution you make a pact with people you know you will never govern with,” Calenda told newspaper Corriere della Sera.

The news was greeted with jubilation by hard-right League leader Matteo Salvini, who tweeted: “On the left chaos and everyone against everyone!”

Giorgia Meloni, leader of the neofascist Brothers of Italy party (FdI) mocked a “new twist in the soap opera of the centre-left.”

READ ALSO: Italy to choose ‘Europe or nationalism’ at election, says PD leader

Analyists predict the centre-left split could hand the right-wing bloc a landslide victory at the election on September 25th, with Meloni tipped to become Italy’s first female prime minister.

Italy’s political system favours coalitions, and while Meloni has a strong alliance with Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, Letta is struggling to bring together the disparate  progressive parties.

The PD is neck and neck with Brothers of Italy in the latest opinion polls, but even in partnership with Azione, the group most recently polled at 33.6 percent, compared with 46.4 percent for the right.

Political commentators said the only hope PD has now of posing a credible threat to the right-wing alliance would be by partnering with the Five Star Movement.

READ ALSO: Why has Italy’s government collapsed in the middle of summer?

However, Letta has repeatedly said this is out of the question, as he blames M5S for triggering the political crisis that brought down Mario Draghi’s broad coalition government.

“Either PD eats its hat and seeks alliance with M5S to defeat the right-wing coalition, or it’s hard to see how the right can possibly lose the forthcoming election,” Dr Daniele Albertazzi, a politics professor at the University of Surrey in England, tweeted on Sunday.

Early elections were called after Draghi resigned in late July. His government currently remains in place in a caretaker role.