Right-Wing Italian Pol Wants Protections from...'Heterophobia'?

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday July 3, 2020

The League leader Matteo Salvini
The League leader Matteo Salvini   (Source:Associated Press)

Far-right Italian politician Matteo Salvini responded to government deliberations on a bill to outlaw homophobia and transphobia by suggesting lawmakers implement a measure to counter "heterophobia." Twitter took that idea and ran with it.

One tweet summarized the response with a two-panel cartoon labeled, "Discovering something that doesn't exist." Another provided a link to a list of victims worldwide who had been targeted out of "heterophobia" - a link that let to a blank page.

Still another tweet drew a parallel between "heterophobia" and the very real discriminatory laws embraced by more than 70 nations worldwide, where being LGBTQ can lead to prison time, fines, or - in a dozen nations - even the death penalty.

"Here is a map of discrimination against heterosexual people," the tweet read. "Red indicates states where being hetero is punished with incarceration. Black indicates states that impose the death penalty."

The map of the world included in the tweet was entirely white.

The Huffington Post carried a blog critical of Salvini's proposal, satirically suggesting that any such law against "heterophobia" be taken for the literal meaning of its root words, derived from the Greek for "fear" and "different."

"That is to say, migrants, blacks, foreigners, gays, trans people," the blog posited.

"So yes, dear Captain," the blog continued, referring to Salvini by a nickname his supporters use for him, "for once we agree with you: let's make a good law against heterophobia and those who spread hatred against those who appear, in any way, to be 'different.' "

As Italy's Minister of the Interior - a post he lost last year - Salvini had infamously blocked a ship carrying refugees from docking at an Italian port. The ship's captain docked anyway and was later cleared of any wrongdoing. The Italian senate revoked Salvini's legal immunity earlier this year, exposing him to prosecution for "holding hostage" the refugees aboard the ship.

Salvini responded by comparing himself to U.S. President Donald Trump, who had recently been impeached - a comparison his critics had already made.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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