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Reggio Emilia becomes first city in Italy to offer gender-neutral toilets

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Reggio Emilia becomes first city in Italy to offer gender-neutral toilets
Reggio Emilio is taking the lead on protecting LGBT+ rights. File photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP
19:25 CEST+02:00
The northern city of Reggio Emilia plans to introduce Italy's most progressive policies to date to accommodate transgender and intersex people, including offering gender-neutral bathrooms and adding a third gender option on official forms.

Under a new protocol, described as the first of its kind in Italy, the city committed to protect LGBT+ rights at city hall and other public institutions including schools, universities and healthcare facilities.

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Measures include creating inclusive toilets within municipal buildings, giving students at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia at the choice of which name to use on their ID, offering staff in the local health authority additional ways to describe their gender on certain forms, and encouraging teachers and parents to discuss gender issues at local schools.

The mayor of Reggio Emilia, Luca Vecchi, called the protocol a step towards "full rights and equal dignity for all people" throughout Italy.

"The first civil union was celebrated here in this city and once more we're renewing and reaffirming our 'no' to all forms of discrimination," he said as he signed the document last week.


A couple celebrate Italy's decision to legalize civil unions for same-sex partners in 2016. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

While Italy lags behind other western European countries on legal protections for LGBT+ rights – gay marriage is not permitted, and same-sex couples have fewer parental rights than their heterosexual equivalents – certain cities and regions have adopted more progressive policies at a local level. 

The city of Turin, for instance, last year became the first in Italy to allow same-sex partners to register their children to both parents at the city records office.

National legislation is unlikely to advance under Italy's current government: influential interior minister and deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini has repeatedly stated his belief that children should have two parents of the opposite sex, while families minister Lorenzo Fontana – a member of Salvini's League party and a conservative Catholic – says that same-sex parents "don't exist at the moment, as far as the law is concerned".

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