The Italian Chamber of Deputies [official website, in Italian] on Tuesday rejected by a vote of 293 to 250 legislation [C. 2802 materials, in Italian] that would have provided greater penalties for hate crimes committed against homosexuals and transsexuals. The legislation was rejected on the grounds [assembly discussion, in Italian] that it violated the concept of equality in Article 3 of the Italian Constitution [text, in Italian] by providing differential treatment for crimes committed due to sexual orientation and gender identity compared to crimes committed for other discriminatory purposes. Amnesty International [advocacy website] called the vote "a wasted opportunity to take a step in the right direction" and urged [statement] Italian authorities to promote diversity and raise awareness of prejudices against LGBT people and other groups at risk for discrimination. Arcigay [advocacy website, in Italian], an Italian LGBT rights group, denounced the decision [statement] as a betrayal of civil rights and called on the European Union for assistance in what it classified as a "democratic emergency."
As a member of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website], Italy is a party to the "Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity" resolution [text, PDF], which was passed [JURIST report] last month. The resolution is the first to call for an end to sexuality discrimination worldwide and to recognize it as a "priority" for the UN. However, the resolution does not address any penalties for violating the act nor is it binding for members. Italy is one of few Western European nations that does not offer legal recognition to same-sex couples. In April 2010, Italy's Constitutional Court [official website, in Italian] rejected [JURIST report] a challenge to the constitutionality of the country's ban on same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive]. In 2007, Italy's Cabinet approved a controversial proposal [JURIST report] to grant a number of legal rights to unmarried couples, including those of the same sex. The proposal, harshly criticized by the country's justice minister and bishop [JURIST reports], ultimately failed.