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Civic Nation Unity in Deversity

Discriminatory Practices Against Minorities

Discriminatory Practices Against Minorities

In 2013 the National Office against Racial Discrimination (Ufficio nazionale antidiscriminazioni razziali – UNRAR) received 959 discrimination complaints, 80% of which were later recognised as viable. Most of the complaints reported cases of ethnicity-based discrimination, and only 4% - discrimination based on sexual orientation. The main groups that were discriminated against were people with Romanian and Moroccan origins.

Discrimination against Roma should be mentioned separately. Firstly, their right to housing was violated – Gypsy settlements were, and still are being closed down. Neither were the inhabitants of the closed settlements provided with the legally required guarantees, nor were the official procedures followed. For example, on September 12th 2013 approximately 35 Gypsy families were forcibly evicted from the informal settlement of Via Salviati in Rome and taken to a segregated formal camp for Gypsies against their will. Nothing was done to improve the appalling living conditions in most of the government-approved camps. Local authorities still deny Gypsy families access to social housing programmes. Specifically, town council of the city of Rome violated the international law in an attempt to ban all Gypsies from receiving state housing. Even though in November 2011 the Italian state council finally revoked the “state of emergency”, which had been active in five distinct regions of Italy due to the “Gypsy settlement problem”; the Gypsies still have not received any compensation for the humiliation and moral damage they suffered. This decision was challenged in 2012, when the State Authorities filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. In May 2012 State Council ruled in favour of allowing several procedures that were active during the state of emergency to be introduced again – at least until the final decision of the Supreme Court was known. This resulted in Italian courts suggesting justifying any evictions with the “state of emergency” excuse - as if it was never cancelled. Finally, results of the population census that was forcibly conducted in 2008-2011, included compulsory fingerprinting, and targeted solely Roma people, still were not destroyed.

The national strategy that was made public in February 2013 and had been designed to facilitate the process of integrating Gypsy people into Italian society was reported to have been mostly unsuccessful.

Religious communities that have not reached an agreement with Italian government are more likely to find themselves a target of discrimination. Islam is one of such communities. So, unlike for the “registered” religious confessions, employers are not legally required to provide their Islam practicing employees with conditions that allow them to carry out their religious rituals (i.e. prayers), or provide days off on their religious holidays.

Italy does not have any legislation prohibiting anti-gay propaganda in public places or during provision of goods and services; neither does it have legislation outlawing hate propaganda. Gender identity is also not included into the official anti-discrimination legislation. Italy has certain issues related to discrimination of sexual minorities. Based on the data published on May 22nd, which was gathered by the poll that had been conducted among 3,500 senior students of Roman lyceums (organised in partnership with the “Gay Center” association and “T6” cooperative), it was revealed that 5% of the respondents considered themselves homosexual. Over half of those (55%) claimed that they were being discriminated against by their educational institutions because of their sexual orientation. They also claimed to be discriminated against by their families (42%), by staff at bars and other establishments (33%), as well as by Mass Media and internet portals (30%). Sometimes such discrimination had truly severe consequences: on August 9th a 14-year-old teenager from Rome committed suicide because of homophobic ridicule.

Romani people are most often subjected to discrimination. Thousands of families live in poor living conditions in segregation camps and centres, including more than 4000 in Rome alone. In these camps, Roma are completely isolated from social and educational services. The government was unable to implement the National Strategy for Roma Integration and failed to provide them with appropriate housing. There have been reports of forced eviction of Roma across the country. On January 29, a group of 60 Roma was evicted from their shacks in Somaini. On July 9, 40 Roma were evicted from Val Ala Park and their homes were destroyed. The only alternative proposed by the authorities was settlement in a local boarding house, which was already at capacity. Rome have been denied access to social housing. In January 2013, Rome housing administration was distributing a guide that discriminated Roma in housing.

On March 20, a sign on the door of a bakery in Rome, which reads “Entrance prohibited for gypsies” was discovered. In November, city of Borgaro announced special “Roma buses”. European Commission initiated enforcement action against Italy due to its treatment of Roma.

Religious communities that have not reached an agreement with Italian government are more likely to find themselves a target of discrimination. Islam is one of such communities. So, unlike for the “registered” religious confessions, employers are not legally required to provide their Islam practicing employees with conditions that allow them to carry out their religious rituals (i.e. prayers), or provide days off on their religious holidays. On July 22, 2015 it became known that the Italian Muslims are struggling with finding a suitable place to worship. They are forced to pray in garages, gyms and shops, as the country has only 8 mosques and nearly half million Muslims.

The LGBT community was also subjected to discrimination in 2014-15. Interior Minister Angelino Alfano ordered to remove all records of same-sex marriages registered outside Italy from Italy’s register of civil status. Speaking on October 9, he said, “It is impossible to register a same-sex marriage in Italy. Thus, these marriages (registered abroad) cannot be entered into the official register of civil status.

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