International News Highlights — Mar. 24, 2023

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Photo courtesy of AFP
Photo courtesy of AFP

Future uncertain for LGBTQ families in Italy
Italy's government, led by far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, has intervened in the northern city of Milan to put a stop to the local government's official recognition of households led by same-sex couples. In response, hundreds of people took to the streets to protest the decision, holding pink pens aloft as symbols of their demands.

Elly Schlein, the new leader of Italy's center-left Democratic Party, demanded of Meloni "not to discriminate against the daughters and sons of these wonderful families."

"We are talking about boys and girls already growing up in our communities and going to our schools," Schlein continued. "It is no longer tolerable, and these families are tired of being discriminated against."

Although same-sex unions have been legal in Italy since 2016, Catholic and conservative groups have managed to exclude language around same-sex couples' adoption rights, and around surrogate pregnancies, which remain illegal in the country.

Mayor Giuseppe Sala of Milan, who was forced by the Interior Ministry to halt the registration of same-sex couples' children, said the development was "a clear step backwards, politically and socially, and I put myself in the shoes of those parents who thought they could count on this possibility in Milan."

The affected families will find it harder to access certain state services and benefits normally available to fully registered couples, such as healthcare, inheritance, and child support.

Even Matteo Salvini, Italy's far-right infrastructure minister, said in a tweet that Meloni had gone too far: "A person can be heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual: love is free, beautiful, and sacred for all."

Young Tory sits out candidacy for Transphobic remarks
Nineteen-year-old Tory candidate Ethan Pugh has been banned from upcoming local elections in Darlington, England, after his Facebook comment from March 1, now deleted, was found to misgender a Green Party councilor and use transphobic language.

Conservative Party officials opened an investigation into his comments and had him suspended, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Pugh apologized, saying he had worked with LGBTQ charities in the past, and that he "understands the difficulties" faced by the community.

"I was not attempting to offend anyone and meant no malice," Pugh said. "I would like to offer my sincere apologies to everyone who has been affected."

In light of his apology, and his agreeing to go through diversity training, his suspension was lifted. His candidacy for the May elections, however, was not reinstated.