A week after the senate rejected a new law aimed at fighting homophobia, the upper house has approved a decree banning sexist and discriminatory adverts. Far-fight politicians are as furious today as they were jubilant last week. The decree also covers gay people, ethnic groups and disabled people.
Italy’s senate approved a law banning street adverts deemed sexist or discriminatory causing fury among far-right politicians and anti-abortion groups.
The law bans adverts on streets and all forms of transport that are demeaning to women and perpetuate gender stereotypes. As well as those considered harmful to civil and political rights, it forbids ads that contain discriminatory messages against gay people, ethnic and religious groups or people with disabilities. It forms part of a transport and infrastructure decree.
A further element bans adverts that discriminate against people based on their gender identity. This was Lucio Malan, a senator with the far-right Brothers of Italy, described as “an ideological norm aimed at limiting freedom of expression”.
Opponents are especially furious as it was the reference to gender identity that in effect led to the senate rejecting a bill aimed at fighting homophobia. “It’s a measure introduced treacherously,” said Malan.
Andrea Bertoli, another senator with Brothers of Italy, said the “shameful” anti-homophobia law had been “reproduced in a transport decree”.
Anti-abortion groups also riled
The measure also provoked complaints from anti-abortion groups. There are regular aggressive anti-abortion campaigns which are offensive to women who have undergone abortions. Now they groups will not be able to place their huge posters over walls.
Antonio Brandi, the president of ProVita, also took aim at the gender identity element of the law. He said: “Will it still be possible to affirm in an advertisement that baby boys are male and baby girls are female? That a baby is born to a mother and father?”
Luisa Rizzitelli, a women’s rights activist, said the measure was “a great step forward” in banning sexist publicity “which is everywhere across Italy”. She also said, “The law doesn’t specifically refer to abortion, but it widens the measure in a very intelligent way, meaning there will be action taken to block this kind of publicity,” The Guardian reported.
“All the women’s associations have been trying for years to stop this,” said Rizzitelli. “This law could help to bring about a cultural change too.”
Stopping hateful messages
Alessia Rotta, a deputy with the centre-left Democratic party, and Raffaella Paita from the centrist Italia Viva party introduced the amendment to the transport and infrastructure decree. “The amendment is the result of a lot of hard work that allows us to give a social value to these issues,” she said.
Nadia Rossi, a politician with the Democratic party, said: “It’s a first step towards a definitive stop to hateful messages that are conveyed through advertising. It is not in any way about limiting communication, but of realising how much advertising can influence the thinking of young people, and affect minorities and the most vulnerable.”