LA CIVETTA April 2019 - Page 17



As a result, there are countless members of the LGBTQ+ community in Italy who continue to live in fear. Many are afraid to be themselves because of what their religious family and friends may think about them.

Some Catholic congregations in Italy willing to accept LGBTQ+ believers even encourage their gay devotees to remain celibate in order to “emancipate themselves from sin.” Others incite them to stop coming to Church and to seek help from psychologists.

In other words, these followers are encouraged to hide who they truly are just because of what the Catholic church continues to teach.

There is a large number of Italian Catholics who would argue that the country is taking some small steps in the right direction. Civil Unions between same sex couples were legalised in Italy in 2016, granting them many of the same rights as married couples.

However, this legalisation has arrived much later than in other European countries such as France and the UK, where these kinds of Civil Unions have been legal since 1999 and 2004 respectively.

Moreover, despite appearing to have supported the LGBTQ+ community at the start of his papacy, Pope Francis raised concern about what he called the “fashion” of homosexuality that he felt was infiltrating the Catholic Church and encouraged gay people not to join the clergy.

This was worrying for many LGBTQ+ Italians since la Città del Vaticano continues to hold so much influence over human rights policy in Italy.

Unfortunately for the Italian LGBTQ+ community, progress continues to be impeded by a Catholic church that refuses to change with the world around it. It is an unjust and cruel reality for those who must continue to live under its inescapable shadow.