League senators furious over transgender Q&A with kids

The far-right League’s famously hardline conservative senator Simone Pillon was left outraged after a transgender actor and former politician spoke to schoolchildren about gender identity for a TV show.

League senators furious over transgender Q&A with kids
Anti-gay rights activists protest in Rome with a sign saying 'We are all born from a man and a woman'. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Actor Vladimir Luxuria spoke to the group of 9-12 year olds for RAI3 show Alla Lavagna! (At the Blackboard), on which adults are quizzed by a classroom full of youngsters, often on controversial or “adult” themes like politics, religion and now, sexuality.

The show is well-known in Italy for the thoughtful and sometimes challenging questions posed by children to adult participants, who have previously included League leader Matteo Salvini.

Luxuria told the children of the “deep sadness” she'd felt as an adolescent, being born a boy but identifying strongly as female.

Pillon reportedly slammed the Q&A session as “shameful indoctrination” and said Luxuria “should go and tell her fairytale somewhere else, definitely not in a school with kids in front of the cameras.”

He said he would be filing a complaint about the contents of the show with the broadcaster’s parliamentary oversight committee.

Pillone is not the only one to complain about the show, with the channel receiving a high number of complaints after the programme was aired and drawing criticsm from conservative Christian groups like ProVita and Generazione Famiglia.
The show was also described as “unacceptable” by Paolo Tiramani, League minister and member of the Rai Parliamentary committee, who said the topic was “too complex” for the children and that such private matters “must remain private.”
It's no surprise that the party, which rules in coalition with the Five Star Movement, has reacted so strongly to the programme.
The League has given conservative Catholics several prominent government roles, notably new Families Minister Lorenzo Fontana, who upon his appointment swiftly declared that same-sex parents “don't exist at the moment, as far as the law is concerned” and expressed his preference for what he called “natural” families with one mother and one father.
Salvini meanwhile has pushed for the wording to be changed on childrens' identity cards from “parents” to “mother and father”. But his attempt to give preference to heterosexual couples was blocked by data protection rules.

Pillon meanwhile, also a family lawyer, proposed sweeping reforms to Italy's divorce and custody laws that opponents fear will make it harder for women to leave marriages and place survivors of domestic abuse at continued risk.

While Italy does not recognise gay marriage or the parental rights it would guarantee, at a local level various Italian cities have begun allowing same-sex couples to legally register their children to both parents, a move towards de facto acknowledgement.

Italy scores poorly when it comes to LGBT rights, particulary with equality and non-discrimination, according to rights group Rainbow Europe.


Italian rivals pitch abroad in trilingual vote videos

Days after Italy's far-right leader made a multilingual appeal to foreign commentators to take her seriously, her main rival in September elections issued his own tit-for-tat video Saturday condemning her record.

Italian rivals pitch abroad in trilingual vote videos

Former prime minister Enrico Letta, leader of the centre-left Democratic Party, declared his pro-European credentials in a video in English, French and Spanish, while deriding the euroscepticism of Italy’s right-wing parties.

It echoes the trilingual video published this week by Giorgia Meloni, tipped to take power in the eurozone’s third largest economy next month, in which she sought to distance her Brothers of Italy party from its post-fascist roots.

“We will keep fighting to convince Italians to vote for us and not for them, to vote for an Italy that will be in the heart of Europe,” Letta said in English.

His party and Meloni’s are neck-and-neck in opinion polls ahead of September 25 elections, both with around 23 percent of support.

But Italy’s political system favours coalitions, and while Meloni is part of an alliance with ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi and anti-immigration leader Matteo Salvini, Letta has struggled to unite a fractured centre-left.

Speaking in French perfected in six years as a dean at Sciences Po university in Paris, Letta emphasised European solidarity, from which Italy is currently benefiting to the tune of almost 200 billion euros ($205 billion) in
post-pandemic recovery funds.

“We need a strong Europe, we need a Europe of health, a Europe of solidarity. And we can only do that if there is no nationalism inside European countries,” he said.

He condemned the veto that he said right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor “Orban — friends and allies of the Italian right — is using every time he can (to) harm Europe”.

In Spanish, Letta highlighted Meloni’s ties with Spain’s far-right party Vox, at whose rally she spoke earlier this summer, railing at the top of her voice against “LGBT lobbies”, Islamist violence, EU bureaucracy and mass

In English, he condemned the economic legacy of Berlusconi, a three-time premier who left office in 2011 as Italy was on the brink of economic meltdown, but still leads his Forza Italia party.

Letta’s programme includes a focus on green issues — he intends to tour Italy in an electric-powered bus — and young people, but he has made beating Meloni a key plank of his campaign.

Meloni insisted in her video that fascism was in the past, a claim greeted with scepticism given her party still uses the logo of a flame used by the Italian Social Movement set up by supporters of fascist leader Benito Mussolini.

In a joint manifesto published this week, Meloni, Berlusconi and Salvini committed themselves to the EU but called for changes to its budgetary rules — and raised the prospect of renegotiating the pandemic recovery plan.

Elections were triggered by the collapse of Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government last month, and are occurring against a backdrop of soaring inflation, a potential winter energy crisis and global uncertainty sparked by
the Ukraine war.