A law that is not needed (because the legal system already has rules that combat discrimination, including gender discrimination) and dangerous because it risks introducing a crime of opinion. These, in summary, the CEI’s findings to the new bill against homotransphobia still being studied by Parliament and of which there is still no unified text. The bishops’ reference, however, to the Zan-Scalfarotto bill currently under discussion in the House Justice Committee and which, in the forecasts, will have to be voted on by the Chamber next July. But the road seems more bumpy than expected. And if gay associations speak of bishops’ obscurantism, politics is divided. The opposition applauds the position of the Italian Church while the majority confirms that it will proceed.
What does the bill provide?
for two years this law has been waiting to be discussed. The bill, in fact, was presented in July 2018 by the deputy Alessandro Zan of the Democratic Party and landed on June 4 in the Justice Commission. The new law, in essence, extend to crimes based on homophobia and transphobia the offenses already provided for in the penal code. Articles 604-bis and 604-ter, in fact, already punish the propaganda and incitement to commit a crime for racial, ethnic or religious discrimination. The extension will only concern instigation to commit a crime and acts of violence and not propaganda. It is a small but substantial change. If the text is approved, those who commit crimes motivated by sexual stigma, especially towards homosexual and transsexual people, he faces up to four years in prison.
How will the penal code change?
A few words will be added to articles 604-bis and 604-ter of the penal code. Article 604-bis will be amended as follows (integration in italics): punished with imprisonment of up to one year and six months or a fine of up to € 6,000 who instigates to commit or commit acts of discrimination for racial or ethnic reasons , national, religious or based on sexual orientation or gender identity (letter to); punished with imprisonment for six monthsat four years old who, in any way, instigates to commit or commit violence or acts of provocation to violence for racial, ethnic, national or religious reasons or based on sexual orientation or gender identity. As mentioned, no changes foreseen in the part in which article 604-bis speaks of propaganda ideas based on superiority or racial or ethnic hatred. On the other hand, a new aggravating circumstance will be added to article 604-ter of the penal code: the punishment increased up to half for offenses punishable by punishment other than life imprisonment committed for the purpose of discrimination or ethnic, national, racial hatred , religious or founded on homophobia or transphobia.
Why do we need a new law?
Today, explains Zan in the bill, in our system there is an irrational difference. A vulnus that needs to be filled. Just take a simple example of the discrepancy between affixing a severely racist banner in a stadium – which, at least in theory, can configure an anti-legal conduct – and affixing the same banner to homosexual people explains Zan. In this second case, in fact, so far it is not a crime, but simple expression of thought, because the criminal law does not provide that homophobia is a form of hatred pursued by law and given that in a democracy, in a rule of law, all that is not prohibited and must be allowed. Furthermore, without a law against homophobia and transphobia that qualifies these as hate crimes, impossible to monitor the phenomenon of assaults, beatings, violence against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals.
Why the bishops’ criticism?
The Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) expresses contrary to the incoming law. No new law is needed, the presidency of the Conference of Bishops clearly states, because there are already adequate safeguards with which to prevent and repress any violent or persecutory behavior. This awareness leads us to look with concern at the bills currently under examination because a possible introduction of further incriminating rules would risk opening up liberticide drifts. The problem arises within Catholic families but also in catechism or pastoral actions where the position of the Church is known. The risk of introducing a crime of opinion, always stresses the CEI.
The responses to the CEI
For the president of the Justice Commission of Montecitorio, the pentastellate Francesca Businarolo, to say that “there are already adequate safeguards” to combat this phenomenon means not wanting to acknowledge a harsh reality of discrimination against which we feel the political and ethical responsibility to intervene. . Zan also responds to the bishops: “The crime of” will not be extended to sexual orientation and gender identitypropaganda of ideas“As today foreseen by article 604 bis of the penal code for ethnic and racial hatred. therefore no limitation on freedom of expression or censorship or gag. It is just a law that protects people’s dignity. The deputy dem said he was also surprised because a unified text not yet filed. I’m five proposals (first signatories Boldrini, Zan, Scalfarotto, Perantoni, Bartolozzi) under discussion in the House Justice Committee: in a few days they will be summarized in a single text that intervenes on instigating crimes to commit discriminatory or violent acts and on carrying out those same acts for conduct motivated by gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. And it extends to aggravated crimes committed for the same reasons the aggravating provision of article 604-ter concludes Zan.
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