Italian fashion maven Donatella Versace denounced the recent efforts by Italy’s right-wing government to roll back the rights of LGBTQ people.
Versace made the impassioned remarks Sunday night during Milan Fashion Week as she accepted the Humanitarian Award for Equity and Inclusivity at the CNMI Sustainable Fashion Awards.
“Here in Italy, it has never been more important for us to champion minority voices. Our government is set on taking away the rights of individuals to live as they wish,” Versace said in her speech, which was shared on her Instagram account. “We all must fight for freedom.”
Versace — who is vice president of the board and artistic director of the Versace fashion house, which was started by her brother Gianni Versace in 1978 — then recalled her late brother’s coming out to her as gay when she was 11 years old.
“For me this changed nothing. I loved him, and I didn’t care who he loved,” she said. “His love and encouragement made me who I am.”
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, whose conservative Brothers of Italy party came to power in October, the Italian government has backed measures to restrict LGBTQ rights.
In March, the government told the city of Milan to stop automatically recording both parents in same-sex couples on city registers. Then, in June, Meloni’s government heavily promoted legislation that would make it a crime for Italian citizens to try to become parents even in countries where the practice is legal, a move that opponents saw as an effort to penalize nontraditional families, according to The Associated Press. The same month, a state prosecutor in northern Italy demanded the cancellation of 33 birth certificates of children born to lesbian couples dating to 2017, saying the names of the nonbiological mothers should be removed.
Versace said Sunday that in the current environment in Italy, “children of same-sex couples are not considered their children” and “transgender people still suffer terrible violence.”
She then took a moment to address the Italian left-wing politician and LGBTQ advocate Alessandro Zan, who was also in attendance, saying, “Your voice is critical in our world, and I am here to support all that you fight for.”
Toward the end of her speech, she said that she has been referred to as a “queer icon” and that she is “very proud of that.”
“I fight for freedom, equity and inclusiveness every day. I built my chosen family with unconditional love. My friends and my team are not defined by race, religion, age, gender or sexual orientation but by creativity, openness, joy and kindness — values with matter,” she said. “If we were all more accepting and more understanding of one another, what an extraordinary world it would be.”
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Jay Valle reports and produces digital content for NBC Out.