The Italian government is in one of its periodic kerfuffles about gay rights and the lack of them. A clause introduced into the long-suffering security bill currently passing through parliament aims to impose sentences for acts of violence or discrimination on the basis of race, sex and sexual orientation. Analogous to the kind of hate crime legislation that's disturbing sensitive family-loving souls in the States, it's based on the Treaty of Amsterdam and is as bland as semi-skimmed milk.
But you wouldn't think so from the way self-mortifying catholic Paola Binetti (see illustration) sprang into action, refusing to vote with the government, rambling on about natural law, etc. She was followed by the usual suspects, not least the ever-present justice minister, Clemente Mastella, a man for whom nepotism and corruption are essential components of the air he breathes, who doesn't appear to see that justice is only justice when applied to all. Giulio Andreotti, man of honour and best buddy to the Vatican, also piped up with a moral qualm or two.
Now it turns out the clause refers to the wrong part of the Treaty, so doesn't exist. This may be a way of solving the problem (in the sense of burying the whole business beneath a ton or two of sand) or of prolonging it. I suspect the latter. But the real problem isn't this scrap of legislation, which any normal country would have voted through unblinkingly. It's the presence of people like Binetti in the newly-formed Partito Democratico. There may be a place for religious bigotry in the government (though I doubt it), but that place shouldn't be a centre-left grouping that has absorbed a sizeable chunk of what's left of the Italian Communist Party.
If she wants to preach her poisonous nonsense in parliament wouldn't it be fairer to herself and everyone else if she joined one of the parties for whom prejudice and discrimination are daily bread? Ex-bovver boy Francesco Storace has just set up a little party for himself and a few chums called, in a moment of exceptional candour, La Destra (The Right) - presumably because there's no money involved. Wouldn't that dark but cosy enclave provide a more congenial home for the wearisome bigot and and her bible-thumping family-values-loving friends? And wouldn't it be refreshing if the newly-appointed leader of the PD, Walter Veltroni, interrupted his ongoing tête-a-tête with Silvio B. to suggest that she take her criminal hatred elsewhere because no democratic party worthy of the name was prepared to tolerate it?