This interview is part of our #LoveWhereILive campaign and of our series “#ProgressiveLocalStories”, aimed at raising awareness on the many positive initiatives implemented by progressive cities and regions in Europe. Cities and regions have become laboratories for innovative solutions and, with this series, we want to discover how progressive mayors, councillors and presidents of regions put in place policies to promote and protect LGBTIQ rights.
Mr. Albiani, you are local councilor of Milan. Your city is a leading example of how to promote and protect LGBTIQ rights. As a progressive local politician, what do you think about the protection of LGBTIQ rights in your city and in Europe?
As a local administration we are the closest institutions to our citizens. Because of this, we are able to listen to them directly and better understand their needs. And this also applies to the LGBTQ+ community. Since 2011, with our party leading the majority of the city, Milan was able to become more inclusive and nowadays has the largest rainbow community in Italy, testified also by the largest number of out LGBTQ+ representatives elected in city council and in our nine municipal councils in the last election in October 2021, including me, the first transgender city councillor, Monica Romano, and two Presidents of our municipalities, Mattia Abdu and Giulia Pelucchi.
But it is not enough. At all.
In our country, as ILGA Europe also reports this year, LGBTQ+ citizens have no protection against hate crimes and hate speeches, for example. Last year the most discussed law proposal was about this theme, known as “DDL Zan” after our MP Alessandro Zan. A proposal that suffered awful and violent opposition, from right parties and small, but noisy, TERF organisations, mainly centred on our strong will to protect our transgender citizenship. This situation brought a well-known stop by our Senate, with the right wing applauding and cheering after a secret vote that was also sneakily supported by parties that were originally favourable. Fortunately in these weeks the law proposal began again its path, with the full support of our National Secretary Enrico Letta.
If the lack of equal marriage and family policies for the LGBTQ+ community, for example, are already a shame for a so-called modern European country, I find the denial of dignity and safety for people who just want to be as they are really worrying. This void, unfortunately, gives apparent legitimation to homophobic and transphobic behaviours, which also happen in our open and inclusive Milan.
As a city we can provide ad hoc services, apart from political initiatives. For example, providing proper training for local police, to give them all the skills they need to manage discriminatory events, and ask the Prefecture to do the same for the State Police and Carabinieri.
What practical measures have you taken (or are you planning to take) to make your city one where the rights of LGBTIQ people are fully respected and promoted?
I already proposed the introduction of the “alias” public transport pass for transgender people who do not have ID documents coherent with their gender and in this way we voted a motion about gender register, the first in Italy, which will provide access to the “alias” pass and will give transgender people, among other things, the full possibility to vote, without possible discrimination at polling stations.
Instead, before ending my mandate I'll work hard to follow up on the request by our local rainbow movement, which asked for only one thing during the elections: an LGBTQ+ Centre.
The Milan LGBTQ+ movement not only has a long tradition of gathering documents, books, pamphlets, art and magazines about our community, but also has lots of thematic activities (women, sexual health, immigration, sports, etc.) that need suitable own spaces. This is the same need as our city's thriving queer art scene, such as Drama Milano, to name one.
Milan has critical issues about public spaces, mostly for young people, and one of my main goals is to solve these. I think that a complete review of bureaucracy to simplify concessions of our properties can start right from the LGBTQ+ Centre.
Last year, the European Commission proposed its first LGBTIQ strategy and the European Parliament declared the EU an LGBTIQ freedom zone. How can the European Union further contribute to promoting LGBTIQ equality and why is this important for your city?
Our European institutions have already clarified their position: there's no Union without rights. The questioning of European funds for those countries that do not respect the rights of women and LGBTQ+ is an example of this. Unfortunately at the moment they do not have other tools that can be used to improve the situation in some countries of the European Union.
But we are in front of a big opportunity. Since years several illustrious figures from all around Europe but also from Italy, such as our PM Mario Draghi and the late President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, have asked for a general reform of our Union traits. Creating, for example, on common economic, judicial, educational, energy and social policies, we'd guarantee all Europeans equal opportunities, rights, duties and, above all, dignity. Warranty of equal marriage and family policies, the ban of conversion therapies and mutilation of intersexual people are still a far goal in most of our European Union. And the current veto power of individual countries is also a problem, as we have seen in so many situations.
Until then, I hope the Commission and the European Parliament will continue to watch and operate to keep as safe as possible the LGBTQ+ community, but not only. I will work for a Milan where anyone can be free to love and be themselves. Europe should do the same.