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Unpacking LGBT+ hate crimes discourse in Italy: between symbolic recognition and claims for sexual citizenship

Caterina Peroni (Institute for Research on Population and Social Policies – National Research Council, Rome, Italy)
Pietro Demurtas (Institute for Research on Population and Social Policies – National Research Council, Rome, Italy)

Safer Communities

ISSN: 1757-8043

Article publication date: 23 February 2024

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to provide a critical account of the hate crime (HC) paradigm by exploring its historical legal definition and the limitations in addressing the multiple and structural discriminations faced by minority groups. Specifically, the article focuses on the case of Italy, where in recent years a fierce debate over a proposed law on HC against LGBT+ and disabled people ended in its rejection due to neoconservative and Catholic opposition.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on critical socio-criminological literature on HC, the paper analyses the Italian debates and socio-legal context over the past two decades regarding discrimination against LGBT+ groups and its (lack of) criminalization. It also provides a secondary analysis of recent data on violence and discrimination against LGBT+ people, collected by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA).

Findings

The analysis of the debate and the data collected shows that the criminal definition of HC is insufficient to capture the wider range of social and cultural violence and discrimination against LGBT+ people. Indeed, data analysis shows the effect of the low level of recognition of rights on the propensity of people to denounce and of social practitioners to recognize, discrimination and violence against LGBT+ people. It is therefore argued that the discussion on HC should move beyond the criminalization of individual violence to be entrenched in a broader reflection over the lack of recognition of sexual citizenship rights which perpetuates the vulnerability of LGBT+ people.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the international socio-criminological debate on HC. It argues for a comprehensive framework that recognizes the structural nature of discrimination and violence against vulnerable groups by framing discrimination and violence against LGBT+ people as a citizenship right rather than a criminal justice issue.

Keywords

Citation

Peroni, C. and Demurtas, P. (2024), "Unpacking LGBT+ hate crimes discourse in Italy: between symbolic recognition and claims for sexual citizenship", Safer Communities, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/SC-12-2023-0055

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited

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