An estimated 20,000 people have protested in Verona against a conference which has brought a global network of anti-gay, anti-abortion and anti-feminist activists to the northern Italian city.
The hosting of the World Congress of Families (WCF), a US coalition that promotes the values of the Christian right, has been especially contentious in Italy as it is supported by the far-right League, a partner in the country’s coalition government. Matteo Salvini, the party’s leader and Italy’s deputy prime minister, spoke at the event on Saturday evening.
He said he was there “to support a festive day with a smile: the right to be a mother, a father and a grandparent”. Salvini pledged not to change Italy’s abortion law, known as Law 94, but said the country needed to reverse its shrinking population. “Italians need to start bringing children into the world. A country that doesn’t make babies is a country that dies.”
The protest was brought together by about 70 rights associations from across the country.
“The only positive thing to come out of this event is that all these groups have come together and Italy is uniting,” said Luisa Rizzitelli, a spokesperson for Rebel Network, a women’s group.
“This is a battle to protect the rights and freedom for all, not just one group. We’re all under threat. This congress is not about religion but political power, and we don’t accept this dangerous regression.” Read more via Guardian