Alfano blocks gay union registration, Bologna defiant

Introduce same-sex law, don't scrap transcriptions says PD

(ANSA) - Rome, October 7 - Interior Minister Angelino Alfano lit a firestorm of protest by ordering the annulment of foreign gay-marriage registrations Tuesday, with Bologna among the cities saying they would defy the order.
    Gay rights groups were indignant, even though the order will have no practical effect since gay marriage is not legal in Italy.
    The centre-left Democratic Party (PD), senior partner in government to Alfano's New Centre Right (NCD), said that far from scrapping any gay-marriage norms, Italy should work to introduce them.
    Speaking on Italian radio, Alfano said all marriages between same-sex couples contracted abroad and registered by city authorities in Italy must be cancelled and removed from municipal registries.
    In an interview with radio station RTL, Alfano said the foreign contracts are not compatible with Italian law.
    "In Italy, same-sex marriage isn't possible, so if people of the same sex get married, those marriages can't be transcribed into the Italian State civil registries, for the simple fact that the law doesn't allow it," Alfano said.
    If cities where mayors authorized registration of same-sex marriages don't cancel the marriages from the registries, the Italian government will step in to annul the registrations, he added. Bologna Mayor Virginio Merola said he would not obey Alfano's order. "If they want to annul the transcriptions of marriages contracted abroad, let them. I won't take my signature off," Merola said. "So let them do it but not in the name of Bologna, which I represent. I won't obey," Merola said.
    Naples' city government, meanwhile, said it would appeal against Alfano's order.
    "The circular annulling the transcriptions is contrary to the Constitutional principle of equal rights," the city council claimed, saying it "will appeal to the competent judicial bodies".
    And Udine Mayor Furio Honsell told ANSA that "bureaucratic circulars" won't resolve the issue.
    "This is a question that has to be brought before parliament or the Constitutional Court," Honsell said. "Everyone knows that these transcriptions don't produce any effect in Italy, but nonetheless, they have a notable value in symbolic terms, because they highlight the right of LGBT people to equal opportunities, and show the inconsistency of the Italian system with respect to the rest of Europe," Honsell said.
    Grosseto Mayor Emilio Bonfazi said, too, that he would continue to follow the local landmark court order in April which imposes transcription of same-sex marriages contracted abroad.
    "A court order has more weight than a ministerial circular," Bonfazi said.
    "If the minister wanted to do things right, given that he's the minister and not there by chance, he should have worked to have parliament approve a law one way or the other. With a circular, he doesn't do anything to us, and the prefect doesn't do anything to us either," Bonfazi said.
    But an NCD mayor in Abruzzo bucked the trend and approved Alfano's stance.
    Chieti Mayor Umberto Di Primio said: "I respect the law, minister Alfano has made the right decision.
    "Marriage is between a man and a woman," the mayor explained, "as our Constitution envisages".
    However, PD Chairman Matteo Orfini told Alfano Rome should not be scrapping foreign gay-marriage registrations but rather making them possible in Italy.
    "Dear Angelino Alfano, instead of annulling the registrations of gay marriages let's try to make them possible in Italy too," Orfini tweeted.
    Opposition leftist SEL party leader Nichi Vendola accused Alfano of being like a caveman. "Come out of the cave," said Puglia Governor Vendola, arguably Italy's most prominent gay politician.
    "Alfano's slogan appears to mean fewer rights for all," said Vendola.
    Vendola, who has lived openly with his younger partner for many years, called Alfano "the sentry guarding the values of the traditional family".
    The leaders of three prominent Italian gay rights organizations denounced Alfano's circular.
    "We're appealing to cities to disobey the minister's decision, just like the Italy of the Resistance disobeyed the orders of the Fascist regime," said Arcigay President Flavio Romani.
    President and founder of the rightwing Gaylib, Enrico Oliari, said that there's an Italian court ruling supporting couples and mayors who intend to register same-sex marriages contracted abroad.
    "I'm personally waiting for the European Court of Human Rights to rule on my appeal, which came from a ruling in the Italian Constitutional Court and invited parliament to legislate on same-sex unions," Oliari said. "Alfano should run for leader of the Standing Sentinels," said Fabrizio Marrazzo, spokesman for Gay Center.
    Standing Sentinels (Sentinelle in Piedi) is a citizen group that organizes silent protests in Italian squares against "pro-gay" laws, by standing silently for one hour reading a book.
    "We hope that those brave mayors who have decided to transcribe these marriages will keep going. The government, Renzi, and the majority leaders should take a stand against the interior minister's decision," Marrazzo said.
    PD Senator Senator Sergio Lo Giudice said that if Alfano goes forward in annulling transcriptions of same-sex marriages contracted abroad, he'll file a legal appeal.
    Lo Giudice wed Michele Giarratano in Norway in 2011 and together they have a 5-month-old son, Luca.
    "My partner is the legal father, I'm just a stranger.
    That's why our battle is also for our son, so that it can be recognized that he has two parents," said Lo Giudice, whose marriage was registered in Bologna six months ago.


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