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

For members


Who will pay less income tax under Italy’s planned reforms?

Italy is planning an overhaul of the tax system meaning new income tax rates for many - but who will benefit the most, and least?

Who will pay less income tax under Italy's planned reforms?

Italy’s government on Thursday submitted the text of a long-awaited tax reform bill which ministers say will be the first step in a sweeping overhaul of the system planned by 2027

As previously reported by The Local, the bill will introduce a raft of major tax changes aimed at gradually reducing Italy’s notoriously high tax burden and making investment in Italy more appealing. 

The plan includes a substantial change to Italy’s main income tax, Irpef (Imposta sui Redditi delle Persone Fisiche), with the number of  tax brackets dropping from four to three.

READ ALSO: Flat tax for all? Italy announces plan to overhaul tax system

This change is expected to mean a new tax rate for many workers in Italy starting from next year. But who’s going to benefit the most from the changes? 

Here’s what we know at this point. 

Irpef, which applies to all employees, many self-employed workers (regular partita Iva holders, but not those on the flat tax rate) and pensioners, currently counts four brackets, which are arranged as below:

  Income (annual) Irpef rate
First bracket Up to 15,000 euros 23 percent
Second bracket Between 15,000 and 28,000 euros 25 percent
Third bracket Between 28,000 and 15,000 euros 35 percent
Fourth bracket Over 50,000 euros 43 percent

The coming tax reform will reduce the number of tax brackets down to three, with the second and third bands being merged into a single one.

The tax rate for the lowest earners is expected to remain unchanged at 23 percent (for those earning 15,000 euros a year or less).

The tax rate should also stay the same for the highest earners taking home 50,000 euros a year or more, at 43 percent.

But middle earners who are currently in the second or third bracket may end up paying more or less tax – and it’s still unclear exactly what will happen. 

READ ALSO: The tax changes in Italy to know about in 2023

While Thursday’s announcement confirmed the number of tax bands will drop to three, the newly published bill didn’t specify what tax rate the new band would carry nor confirm how rates in other bands would be readjusted. 

However, Meloni’s cabinet is reportedly considering two options. 

First scenario

Under the first, and currently more likely, option, the new middle bracket will mean all taxpayers earning between 28,000 and 50,000 euros a year will pay a 33-percent rate.

Rates for the first and last brackets would remain the same.

This would mean all those who are currently in the second (income between 15,000 and 28,000) and third bands (28,000 to 50,000) would see their tax rate drop by two percent next year and subsequently benefit from sizable cuts to their Irpef payments. 

  Income (annual) Irpef rate
First bracket Up to 28,000 euros 23 percent
Second bracket Between 28,000 and 50,000 euros 33 percent
Third bracket Over 50,000 euros 43 percent

Second scenario

Meloni’s government is also considering a second scenario, with a 27-percent rate for a larger middle band – an option that would be much more costly to the state, and so seems less likely.

This would mean people currently in the second bracket (15,000 to 28,000) will see their tax rate increase by two percent, while those in the third bracket (28,000 to 50,000) would benefit from a whopping eight-percent cut

Rates for the first and last brackets would again remain the same.

  Income (annual) Irpef rate
First bracket Up to 15,000 euros 23 percent
Second bracket Between 15,000 and 50,000 euros 27 percent
Third bracket Over 50,000 euros 43 percent

Which path will the government go down?

While it was hoped that the bill’s text would clarify what rate the new band would carry, there are currently no details as to which option the government intends to go with.

That said, the first option seems to be the more likely one at this point in time, not least because implementing it would reportedly cost state coffers around 6 billion euros, whereas the second option would present the treasury with a 10 billion-euro bill.

Further information over which route the government will ultimately go down should emerge in the coming weeks as the bill goes through parliament. 

And even the possibility that Meloni’s executive might end up adopting an Irpef system other than the two described above cannot be ruled out at this time.