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Italy is ‘free’ to decide on homophobia law

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ROME: Prime Minister Mario Draghi insisted on Wednesday that the Italian parliament was sovereign after the Vatican presented an unprecedented complaint on a bill against homophobia.
“What I want to say, especially regarding the latest developments, is that ours is a secular state, not a confessional state,” said the prime minister, a practicing Catholic.
“So parliament is free to debate – obviously these are obvious considerations – and to legislate,” he added, addressing the Senate.
Draghi was reacting to the news that the Vatican had filed a diplomatic protest in the form of a “note verbale” against the so-called Zan law.
The proposed law seeks to sanction acts of discrimination and incitement to violence against gay, lesbian, transgender and disabled people.
But the Vatican argued that it violates the Concordat, the bilateral treaty between Rome and the Holy See, by restricting the freedom of Catholic belief and expression, according to the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
He expressed concern that due to the Zan law, Catholics could in the future face legal action for expressing their opinions on LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) issues, Corriere said.
“Our legal system contains all the guarantees so that the laws always respect constitutional principles and international commitments, including the Concordat with the church“Draghi said Wednesday.
The center-left lawmaker sponsoring the bill, Alessandro Zan of the Democratic Party, rejected the Vatican’s arguments on Tuesday.
“The text [of the law] it does not in any way restrict freedom of speech or religious freedom, “he tweeted, adding that” there must be no foreign interference “in the activities of a sovereign parliament.
The Zan law was approved by the lower house of parliament in November but faces strong opposition from Matteo Salvini’s League party and other right-wingers in the upper Senate.
The Draghi government, an uneasy coalition of national unity that includes critics and supporters of the Zan law, has no official position on the bill.
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