An Italian legislator and former governmental minister came out publicly as gay last month, citing his Catholic identity as one of the motivations for affirming his sexual orientation.
ANSA reported that Vincenzo Spadafora made the revelation on the Italian talk show “Che Tempo Che Fa,” doing so while promoting his forthcoming book: Senza Riserve: In Politica e nella Vita (No Reservations: In Politics and in Life). He said that he felt those in the public eye bore more responsibility to defend LGBTQ rights.
Spadafora is a member of Movimento 5 Stelle (MS5), the populist anti-establishment party, and is the former minister of youth, politics, and sport. He currently serves in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of parliament.
According to The Advocate, Spadafora explained that his reasons for coming out were twofold. First, he wanted “to testify to my political commitment, for all those who fight for their rights everyday and have less opportunity than I have thanks to my role.” The politician’s Catholic identity was his other motivation. He wanted to show that his sexual orientation was “not in contradiction” with his faith. “I did it for myself too,” he explained. “I learned perhaps too late that it is important to love and respect each other.”
This stance appears to be a controversial one in traditionally Catholic Italy, where the Senate recently rejected a bill that would have made violence against LGBTQ persons, women, and disabled people a hate crime, reports the NY Daily News. The “Zan” bill, named for openly gay lawmaker and author of the legislation Alessandro Zan, was opposed by both the Vatican and Italy’s far-right political party. It would have extended a law that already criminalizes violence based on race or religion. Thousands of protestors spilled into the streets following the vote, according to Arcigay, Italy’s largest LGBTQ group, underscoring the need for prominent public figures to support gay rights.
Spadafora sees the same need: “In politics, homosexuality is used to wound and undermine people with whispering campaigns that I wanted to snuff out.”
Not just in politics, but in the lives of LGBTQ individuals in Italy and around the world, Spadafora stands in solidarity with his identity now public: “I hope to be considered for what I do, for what I am, and from tomorrow on maybe I’ll be happier because I feel freer.”
Robert Shine, associate director of New Ways Ministry, commented about the legislator’s coming out:
“Vincenzo Spadafora’s decision to come out publicly as flowing from his Catholic beliefs reinforces a truth known by so many LGBTQ Catholics: living openly is entirely compatible with one’s faith. Italy, in part because of the institutional church’s negative influence, lags behind its peers in Western Europe when it comes to LGBTQ rights. Hopefully, Spadafora’s words will encourage more prominent LGBTQ Italians to speak their truth and open wider an essential social conversation.”
—Angie Howard McParland (she/hers), New Ways Ministry, December 18, 2021