In an interview on national Italian radio, Italy’s ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi declared he was in favour of extending legal rights to all couples wanting to marry, but only if the majority of parliament is in favour.
Campaigning for the next elections recently began, including declarations by some of the more important members of parliament that caused Monti (leader of the technical government brought in after the previous elected government’s collapse) to resign. This move comes at an early, yet critical stage of campaigning when many Italians are likely to make a decision on who they’re likely to vote for. Berlusconi is no stranger to getting the country talking about him, whether for the right or wrong reasons.
What so few seem to notice is that once again Berlusconi has made a U-turn on what he initially said. Over two years ago, he declared that it was “better to like beautiful girls than be gay.” Then, 11 months ago, he made a rather ambiguous statement, saying he had “nothing against homosexuals,” as they “reduced the competition.” Just last month, he called gay marriage an “amenity” that left-wing parties spent their time on. Now, he’s saying that he is willing to look into “a legal solution to gay marriage.” It seems he’s forgotten that two years ago he announced: ”As long as we’re in power there will be no equality between gay couples and traditional families, just as child adoption for gay couples will never be possible.”
All this comes from an undoubtedly chauvinist bigot, who calls himself “not a playboy, but a play-man,” and is forced to pay out €3,000,000 each month to his ex-wife; after three “feminist, communist, female judges” sentenced against him. Can this man really be trusted? Is this really a change of heart on his part or just empty words?
In past elections Burlusconi always promised to lower taxes, abolish the property tax known in Italy as IMU, and protect the pockets of the average Italian workers. Needless to say, these promises have never been kept and, more often than not, further taxes have been put in place or already existing ones increased. Advocate groups for LGBT rights on the whole seem to take this recent declaration with a pinch of salt: they want concrete proposals written into the party manifesto before they truly believe him – not that putting promises in writing has ever stopped him from changing his mind.
But let’s not forget that this “play-man” cannot make decisions on his own. Parliament must approve any law put forward by the next government, a government which, if run by Berlusconi’s party, will not advocate any such thing. Part of a document signed by more than 150 MPs in his party declares their contrariety to any form of marriage other than that between a man and a woman.
Berlusconi’s claims seem like another cheap shot at pulling in votes, in a country where 54% of Italians are now in favour of gay marriage – up from 53% last year. Meanwhile, on Vatican Radio, bishop Sigalini said that “Acknowledging [homosexuals] gives them the right to live their own lives, but they cannot substitute marriage with their union.” Well, how very backward and closed-minded.