The Italian deputy prime minister has called same-sex parents ‘unnatural’ and vowed to keep all families heterosexual.
Matteo Salvini, the far-right leader of the Northern League party, has risen to popularity on the back of rhetoric against migrants, Islam and the European Union.
Soon after becoming deputy prime minister in June alongside Five Star Movement leader Luigi di Maio, the two nationalist politicians tried to appoint anti-LGBT+ journalist Marcello Foa as the head of public broadcaster Rai.
Salvini has risen to prominence on the back of far-right rhetoric (Andreas Gebert/Getty)
In an interview with Catholic news outlet La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, Salvini expressed his strong opposition to same-sex parents, equal marriage and surrogacy.
The 45-year-old populist figurehead, who is also the country’s interior minister, was asked about same-sex marriage, to which he responded: “My position is firmly against.”
Italy has had civil unions since 2016, but as in many countries over the past couple of years, anti-gay sentiment has increased among Italian politicians.
“My position is firmly against” (Andreas Gebert/Getty)
Salvini gave an example of how he had already erased gender-neutral terms from government resources in order to ensure a return to heteronormativity.
“Last week I was told that on the website of the Ministry of the Interior, on the forms for the electronic identity card there were ‘parent 1’ and ‘parent 2,’ he said.
“I immediately changed the site by restoring the definition ‘mother’ and ‘father.’
“It’s a small thing, a small signal, but it is certain that I will do all that is possible as minister of the interior in any case that is ruled by the constitution.”
“Utero for rent and similar horrors? Absolutely no” (VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty)
The deputy prime minister then added, seemingly for no reason: “Utero for rent and similar horrors? Absolutely no.”
When the issue of same-sex adoption was raised, Salvini pledged to do everything he could to ensure that gay couples don’t have the same rights as heterosexual partners.
“We will defend the natural family founded on the union between a man and a woman,” he said.
“I will exercise all possible power.”
In July, Italy’s new family minister, Lorenzo Fontana, condemned same-sex parents who conceive a child abroad using practices “banned by [the Italian] legal system” and said that gay families “don’t exist.”
Lorenzo Fontana attends the swearing in ceremony of the new government in June (Ernesto S. Ruscio/Getty)
The politician, a Northern League member with a consistent history of opposing LGBT rights, said he was not “against gays,” adding that he has “many homosexual friends… after all, I lived in Brussels for many years where there are many gay people in powerful positions.”
The politician added: “I am Catholic, I do not hide it. And that’s why I believe that the family is the natural one, where a child must have a mother and a father.”
When the interviewer persisted with questions about how he would act towards children of same-sex families, he said: “Ah, for heaven’s sake! There will never be any kind of discrimination towards children.
“Measures to support children will be extended to all children, indiscriminately and irrespective of their parents.”
When asked about families involving same-sex parents and children, he said: “Under the law, they don’t exist right now.”
Salvini’s comments also reflect those of Pope Francis, who said in June that gay couples can’t make real families and abortions are like the Holocaust.