The Mandarins X

Valentina Dolciotti

Is it really necessary to dedicate an issue of this magazine to the LGBT+ community? Do we not risk ghettoising, underlining differences, further discriminating? On 3 March, members of the European Commission voted to declare the EU an “LBGTQI freedom zone”, which protects and supports LGBT rights. It is, above all, a symbolic gesture, which denounces “all forms of violence and discrimination based on sex or sexual orientation”.

It is, furthermore, a sign of the EU taking a stand against what is happening in two member states in particular: Poland and Hungary. Over the last two years, over 100 local authorities in Poland – equal to one third of the national territory! –  have labelled themselves “LGBT ideology-free zones”, that is, areas that have been “liberated” from LGBT+ individuals and their so-called “ideologies”. Hungary has gone so far as to change its Constitution to rule out the possibility of same-sex couples adopting children, in order to “protect the rights of children to the sexual identity they are born with” and guarantee them “an education that corresponds to the values of Christian culture”. And so, as we were saying, the European Commission has responded by decreeing the “LGBTQI Freedom Zone”. 492 voted in favour of the resolution and 141 against (including, for our beautiful country, members of the Lega and Fratelli d’Italia parties) and 46 (who possibly make me even angrier) abstained. So, returning to the beginning: is this an important topic and is it worth discussing LGBT+ issues in 2021? I think so. Because the issue has certainly not been resolved. If the European Commission felt it had to share the first community strategy for achieving the equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, intersex and queer individuals, that means that something is wrong. A number of targeted actions are planned for 2020 to 2025, including legal and financial measures to combat discrimination and guarantee the LGBT+ community’s safety; to lead the fight for equality in the world; to extend the definition of hate crimes and, finally, to standardise reciprocal recognition of parental responsibilities in cross-border situations. 

In the last global report (May 2020) compiled by the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, which focused on conversion therapy (these comprise practices that aim to “convert” gay, lesbian or bisexual people to heterosexuality, and transgender people to being cis gender), the list of countries that engage in these practices is far too long. These are practices that inflict long-term suffering, pain and psychological and physical damage, because we are talking about practices that (also) include ECT (including shocks to the genitals), exorcisms (beating an individual with a broomstick while reciting sacred texts, for example), force feeding or starvation, isolation, hypnosis, involuntary commitment, beatings and “corrective rape”. These types of “therapy” are a violation of the individual’s right to bodily autonomy, health and the free expression of sexual orientation and gender identity. 

When they are imposed by force they violate prohibitions on torture and yet they continue to take place in an embarrassing number of sovereign states, including: Armenia, Austria, Cambodia, China, South Korea, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Lebanon, Malaysia, Namibia, Nigeria, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Poland, the United Kingdom, the Dominican Republican, Russia, Spain, Sri Lanka, the USA, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Vietnam, Zimbabwe. Horrifying? Meanwhile, Italy continues to be one of the few European countries that do not have a law that protects the LGBT+ community. So no, the issue has not been resolved at all.