For Italy's Gay Rights Advocates, It's 1 Step Forward, 2 Steps Back

Published: October 13, 2014

Sylvia Poggioli

Ancient Rome may have been open to all sorts of sexual mores, but modern Italy is less so. The country lags far behind its European Union partners in guaranteeing equal rights for homosexuals.

Gay couples have no legal recognition or adoption rights in Italy, and a bill presented last year outlawing discrimination on the grounds of homophobia has been bogged down in parliament by right-wing opposition.

The legislation now faces opposition from a new conservative Catholic movement. They call themselves the Standing Sentinels, and they claim that the bill violates freedom of speech.

The group first appeared in public last spring, including at a vigil in Rome where a man on a loudspeaker welcomed a crowd of a few hundred people. He instructed them to stand about 2 yards from each other as they read books of their choosing in absolute silence.

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