Italy adopts new LGBT strategy just before right-wing takeover

Elena Bonetti arrives at Quirinale Presidential Palace, before being sworn in as Italy's equal opportunities and families minister, in Rome, Italy September 5, 2019. REUTERS/Ciro de Luca/File Photo

ROME, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Italy's outgoing government has adopted a new plan for LGBT rights just before handing over the reins to a right-wing administration that promises to be far more socially conservative.

"We weren't very ideological, we were very concrete," Equal Opportunities Minister Elena Bonetti told Reuters on Friday, saying the contents of the document were not controversial.

Nevertheless, they immediately jarred with prime-minister-in-waiting Giorgia Meloni and her post-fascist Brothers of Italy party, which won a Sept. 25 election partly on pledges to defend the "traditional family" and resist "LGBT lobbies".

The 30-page "National LGBT+ Strategy 2022-2025," formally approved on Oct. 6, aims to fight discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in schools, universities, hospitals, prisons, sport clubs, and the workplace in general.

It recommends measures including LGBT-awareness courses for teachers, doctors, police officers and prison guards, monitoring homophobic language in the media, and adding specific anti-LGBT discrimination clauses in national labour agreements.

Isabella Rauti, Brothers of Italy's spokeswoman for equal opportunities, family affairs and "non-negotiable values", said it was wrong for a caretaker government on the way out to commit its successor to a multi-year roadmap.

"I won't comment on any of the merits, but for me it is the principle," she told Reuters.

Bonetti, a centrist from ex-premier Matteo Renzi's Italia Viva party and a former Catholic scout leader, acknowledged that whoever succeeds her in office could follow a different path.

"I hope the next government will implement what we have laid out," she said.

Meloni, who leads a bloc including Matteo Salvini's League and Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, is set to take over from outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi later this month. She will be Italy's first female premier.

She has ruled out rolling back existing laws on LGBT rights and abortion, but has also excluded extending them. Her party is particularly hostile to same-sex parenting and "gender fluid" ideas.

Brother of Italy's culture spokesman, Federico Mollicone, caused a stir last month when he attacked the popular children's cartoon "Peppa Pig" for showing a polar bear with two lesbian mothers in one of its episodes.

He denounced it as "gender indoctrination."

Reporting by Alvise Armellini, additional reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Crispian Balmer, William Maclean

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