The Italian Parliament is currently discussing the so-called “DDL Zan”, an anti-hate crime law promoted by the MP Alessandro Zan from the Democratic Party. The Italian legal system already includes a law (the Mancino Law 1993) which punishes discrimination, violence or incitement to violence based on someone’s race or religion, with sentences up to four years in prison.
The goal of the DDL Zan is to expand the Mancino Law by explicitly recognizing hate crimes and hate speech against women and LGBTI+ people as well. However, the Vatican contends that this law would jeopardize the freedom of thought and expression of Catholics in Italy, among other concerns. For this reason, the Holy See has sent a formal request to the Italian Government, invoking the 1929 Concordat to request a modification of the DDL Zan.
Roberto Grendene, Secretary of the Italian Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics, commented on this unprecedented interference as follows:
“With this act the Vatican has violated the independence and the sovereignty of the Italian Republic. The government now has a political and moral obligation not only to resist this pressure from the Vatican, but also to unilaterally denounce this unprecedented interference in the affairs of the State.
“The Vatican diplomacy had never interfered with a formal act in the approval process of a State law. Our Constitution states the independence and the sovereignty of the Italian Republic, but the Vatican is trying to violate this independence in the name of the Concordat – a fascist relic that should be written off.
“UAAR calls the government and parliament to immediately distance themselves from this act by supporting the approval of the DDL Zan and by unilaterally denouncing the Concordat. The Italian Republic cannot be kept on a leash by a totalitarian State.”
Giovanni Gaetani, Membership Engagement Manager of Humanists International, commented:
“Humanists International joins our Italian Member UAAR in calling upon the Italian government to take action against this unprecedented interference of the Holy See in the democratic process of a sovereign State.
“Italy is and remains a secular State and we hope that the Italian government will intervene to reaffirm this principle without any hesitation.”