Anti-Gay Unions Rally in Rome Draws Over Ten Thousand Protesters

An anti-gay unions rally in Rome, Italy, drew thousands of protesters to Rome’s Circus Maximus on Saturday. The Italians who attended the anti-gay marriage rally turned out in hopes of urging the government to drop legislation that would legally recognize homosexual couples and give them limited rights to adopt.

The introduction of the Italian same-sex union bill comes after the European Court of Human Rights upheld complaints of discrimination against same-sex couples due to their lack of legal recognition in Italy. The bill has added to the growing resentment between Italian Catholics and members of the LGBT community.

According to France 24, the highly contested gay unions bill was sent to Italian parliament last week and will be voted on in February. Not only are Italian citizens divided over the issue, but the government itself is also divided on the gay marriage bill. Opponents are hoping they can strike down the bill before it comes a law, as they have done in the past.

Event organizers coined the anti-gay event “Family Day,” and the group of protesters included children, families, parents, and grandparents. Many of them were holding up signs saying things such as “wrong is wrong.”

While over 10,000 anti-gay supporters may seem like a large number, the Local reported that the turnout to the anti-gay rally was quite poor, based on what event organizers had hoped for. Apparently, authorities and event organizers had been hoping for a crowd of around half a million people.

The anti-gay rally comes just a week after thousands of people took to the streets of Italy, on the opposite end of the spectrum, to show their support for the same-sex union bill. Protesters a week ago demanded that the pending bill be approved.

“Massimo Gandolfini was the organizer of the anti-gay rally event and he simply said, ‘Without limits, our society will go mad! The bill is unacceptable, from the first word to the last.’ “

Another organizer of the event, Simone Pillon said, “We cannot let children pay for the desires or caprices of adults. Children need to have a father and a mother. We want the whole law to be withdrawn, no ifs and no buts.”

Italy is one of the last major Western countries to not legally recognize same-sex couples. With a strong Christian (mostly Catholic) presence in Italy, it seems that many of the protesters motives are based on religious morals. Anti-gay Catholic lobbying groups are at the forefront of many of the protests, and the event attendees even included some government officials.

Anti gay protesters in France

Members of the small but growing political party, called the New Centre Right party, were also supporters at the rally, some involved in protests and others cheering from the sidelines.

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, who is the head of the New Centre Right Party said about the event, “I fully adhere to the aims of this gathering.”

Recent public opinion polls in Italy indicate that around 70 percent of Italians believe that same-sex couples should be given some legal protection, but only 24 percent believe that same-sex couples should be given adoption rights.

Last week, Pope Francis reiterated the Catholic Church’s stance on gay marriage by stating that “traditional families” are “what God wants.” Many of the anti-gay protesters at the “Family Day” rally echoed his sentiments, and The Italian Bishops Conference has officially come out against the proposed bill as well.

[Photo by HNGN/Getty Images]