Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

Amnesty International has joined LGBT groups in condemning Italy’s failure to adopt a bill to protect LGBT people against homophobic and transphobic crimes.

The bill was rejected by the Chamber of Deputies in Parliament on Tuesday by 293 votes to 250. The lower house is dominated by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative The People of Freedom party and coalition partners.

“The Italian Parliament has wasted an opportunity to take a step in the right direction,” said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia Programme.

Italian law already allows hate crimes based on grounds of race, ethnicity, nationality and religion to be punished. If passed, the new bill would have included homophobic and transphobic crimes too.

“The number of homophobic and transphobic attacks reported in the last few years in Italy remains a matter of concern,” noted Duckworth.

“Hate crimes have a deep impact not only on the immediate victim but also on the group with which that victim identifies.”

Berlusconi has angered Italy’s LGBT community by insisting that he will never allow same-sex marriage or gay adoption to be legalised in Italy.

He also famously said, “it’s better to be passionate about beautiful girls than be gay” in an attempt to defend his behaviour in numerous scandals involving young women.

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