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Italy gets new leader; gays may benefit
Wednesday, April 12, 2006 / 08:45 AM
SUMMARY: In Italy Romano Prodi has won a very narrow victory in Sunday's elections, but the current prime minister wants a recount.
In Italy the center-left coalition led by Romano Prodi has won a very narrow victory in Sunday's national elections, according to international news reports, but the current prime minister has demanded a recount.
After claiming victory, Prodi told supporters, "We have won. We have to start uniting Italy. Now we have to focus in order to change Italy."
During his campaign, Prodi reportedly promised to introduce a civil partnership law for same-sex couples if he becomes prime minister.
Outgoing Prime Minister Silvio Burlusconi, however, has disputed the election results, saying there were "many irregularities and it's possible that we won't be able to confirm that it has been a valid vote."
The dispute over the results could last weeks.
On Tuesday, Prodi said he would not install a new government until parliament names a new president in early May. In Italy, the president gives the winner the mandate to form a new government. President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi's term expires next month.
Prodi, a former European Commission president, reportedly plans to withdraw Italian troops from the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Abortion rights and same-sex partner rights were big social issues with voters, as several thousands of pro-gay and pro-choice Italians demonstrated in the streets during the campaign. The Catholic Church also wielded its influence to try and sway voters against the two progressive causes.
The election benefited transgender candidate Vladimir Luxuria, who is nearly assured of a seat in parliament. Luxuria is a member of the Reformed Communist Party and has pledged to work for LGBT rights.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Five LGBT people are elected to Italian Parliament
Recent elections in Italy now give hope there will be further improvement for LGBT rights in the country.
Not only it is likely that the government will be formed by the political parties backing legal recognition for same-sex unions, but thers is also a significant increase in visibility of LGBT people in the Italian politics, five LGBT people were elcted to the both houses of the Italian Parliament:
Gianpaolo Silvestri (a gay man, co-founder of Arcigay) elected with the Green Party
Congratulations and very good luck to our friends in Italy!
Transgender person is elected to Italian parliament
Five lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people were elected as members of the Italian parliament. While Europe is more accustomed to the presence and visibility of LGB people in politics, the case of Vladimir Luxuria, a transgender person being elected as a parliamentarian, is probably the first of its kind in Europe.
This is a significant result not just for Italy but for the entire Europe and European politics as LGBT people are taking more prominent and visible place within the political arena.
The majority of the centre-left coalition Unione lead by the former President of the European Commission Romano Prodi is expected to introduce some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples as most coalition members supported the idea in their election manifestos. It is also likely that Italy will improve its anti-discrimination legislation and expand its hate legislation to include sexual orientation and gender identity, and possibly that the new government will improve the present gender reassignment legislation.
Riccardo Gottardi, Co-Chair of the ILGA-Europe Board, said:
“We are happy to see a transgender person being elected as Italian parliamentarian. This is a very important victory not just for Italy, but for all Europe. This is also a sign that the European electorate is becoming more open minded and embracing the diversity of human kind.
We hope the newly elected Italian politicians will fulfil their pre-election promises and will introduce Italy into a family of European nations legally recognising same-sex families as well as introduce further legislation to guarantee equal rights for LGBT people.”
For more information please contact Juris Lavrikovs at + 32 2 609 54 16 / + 32 496 708 375
Notes for editors:
(1) ILGA-Europe is the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) and works for equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Europe.
LGBT Candidate Wins Help Seal Prodi Victory
by Malcolm Thornberry, 365Gay.com European Bureau Chief
April 12, 2006 - 1:00 pm ET
(Rome) Leftist Prime Minister-designate Romano Prodi's narrow victory in this week's Italian election was accomplished in part by the victories of five LGBT candidates.
Among them was Vladimir Luxuria (pictured), believed to be the first transsexual elected to a European parliament.
"I'm going to be the first transgender to get into a parliament in Europe," she said when she filed her candidacy papers in Rome earlier this year.
"It's a way to say to people: don't judge me by the way I look, don't judge me by my sexual orientation. Please, judge me by my ideas."
Luxuria ran under the Communist party banner in Rome in a district not far from the Vatican.
Her victory was not unexpected. Luxuria is a popular fixture in Rome's LGBT community. She is a cabaret performer and in 1994 organized the county's first gay pride march.
“We are happy to see a transgender person being elected as Italian parliamentarian. This is a very important victory not just for Italy, but for all Europe," said Riccardo Gottardi, Co-Chair of the International Lesbian and Gay Association - Europe Board.
"This is also a sign that the European electorate is becoming more open minded and embracing the diversity of human kind.
As 365Gay.com reported Tuesday returns released by the Interior Ministry gave Prodi's coalition a slim majority in both houses of parliament. Silvio Berlusconi, though, has refused to concede defeat and challenged Prodi's victory claim, demanding a recount. (story)
Berlusconi said he would concede only after Prodi is confirmed the winner after all the checks are carried out on the voting, which he says was marred by "irregularities."
Prodi told reporters on Wednesday that even though the margin of victory in both houses was razor-thin, "I do not fear a reversal of the results."
But his majority is so slim it may it difficult for him to get legislation through Parliament.
Among the bills seen as having problems gaining approval are three that would affect LGBT Italians - recognition of same-sex couples, expanded hate crimes legislation to include sexuality, and improved gender reassignment legislation.
"We hope the newly elected Italian politicians will fulfill their pre-election promises and will introduce Italy into a family of European nations legally recognizing same-sex families as well as introduce further legislation to guarantee equal rights for LGBT people,” said Gottardi
Prodi has been a supporter of moderate rights for same-sex couples since last July when he met with gay activists, but he opposes gay marriage. (story)
His planned bill would legalize civil partnerships, similar to those in Britain and other parts of the European Union.
He also has voiced his support for revamping hate crimes and reassignment surgery.
NEWSMAKER-Italy's cashmere communist lines up for power
Wednesday 12 April 2006, 11:29am EST
By Robin Pomeroy
ROME, April 10 (Reuters) - With his dapper appearance and urbane manner, 66-year-old Fausto Bertinotti does not look like the harbinger of "misery, terror and death" that Silvio Berlusconi has accused Italy's communist leader of being.
The head of Italy's biggest hard-left party, Communist Refoundation, often called a "cashmere communist" because of his taste for expensive clothes, Bertinotti is set to play a key role in Romano Prodi's new government.
Bertinotti has said he would not become a minister himself, but as his party secured third place in Prodi's centre-left election victory, it will demand significant spoils after more than 2 million Italians gave him their vote.
Italian media have speculated that he or someone from his party might become speaker of one of the houses of parliament.
Confounding the Prime Minister's constant warnings of "baby-eating" communists, Bertinotti has taken a left-wing but hardly extreme stance, calling for lower tax on labour and higher taxes on capital gains -- a policy broadly adopted by Prodi's "Union" coalition.
"There's nothing wrong with being rich, as long as you pay taxes," he has said.
But while Bertinotti's supporters love him for continuing the proud tradition of waving the hammer and sickle in a country that, during the Cold War, was home to the West's biggest communist party, many Italians share Berlusconi's distaste.
"How could anyone vote left? They want to bring communists back to Italy when everyone else in the world wants to get rid of them," said Silvia Cento, a shop owner in central Rome.
It is not just Berlusconi voters who fear Italy's communists. Many moderates in the centre-left are concerned Bertinotti could hold Prodi to ransom unless he gets his way.
He was responsible for sinking Prodi's first government when, in 1998, he turned against him in a confidence vote due to disagreements over labour policy.
Prodi's fall eventually led to Berlusconi's 2001 landslide victory and five years in power -- something for which many on the left have still not forgiven Bertinotti.
He has promised he will not sink Prodi a second time, saying his party today is fully signed up to the coalition and its manifesto, rather than merely lending parliamentary support from outside the government as it did in the late 1990s.
Casting his vote, Bertinotti was asked whether he owed more allegiance to Prodi or to his party. He replied: "I don't understand the question."
Another reason Refoundation scares some on Italy's right, and delights those on the left, is that Bertinotti has made his party home to a variety of the country's discontents who would would not easily find a place in other political groupings.
New lawmakers who may enter parliament under Refoundation's banner include Vladimir Luxuria, a transvestite who aims to be Europe's first "trans-gender" lawmaker, Francesco Caruso, a leader of the anti-globalisation movement, and Haidi Giuliani, mother of a demonstrator shot dead by police at G8 protests in Genoa in 2001.
Milanese by birth, the former trade unionist is a fan of the AC Milan soccer team, probably the only thing he has in common with Berlusconi, who owns the club.
(Additional reporting by Rachel Sanderson)
伊次期政権、難航必至 中道左派、早くも内紛 イラク撤退、急進派「即時」主張 (読売 2006/04/13朝刊)
イタリア：Vladimir Luxuria下院議員に 欧州初、世界二番目のトランスジェンダー国会議員誕生