Italy’s anti-homophobia Zan bill backed by Mussolini's granddaughter

Alessandra Mussolini backs Italy's contentious Zan bill.

Italy's draft law designed to combat homophobia, currently the cause of much debate, has received support from Alessandra Mussolini, the former right-wing politician who stepped back from politics at the end of last year.

Mussolini, the granddaughter of Italy's wartime fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, gained international notoriety in 2006 for her explosive outburst on live Italian television when she responded to transgender MEP Vladimir Luxuria by snapping: "Better a fascist than a faggot."

However in an interview this week with Italian gossip magazine Chi, Mussolini said that she and Luxuria are now friends, clarifying that she used the infamous expression "in response to a violent provocation on my surname. I didn't want to offend, but to put an end to an unpleasant discussion."

Mussolini has also declared her support for the Zan bill, in stark contrast to the views of her former electoral base and one-time peers in right-wing political circles, who are fundamentally opposed to the law.

Mussolini's comments in Chi come days after the Vatican made an 'unprecedented' challenge to the disputed bill which the Holy See fears could curb the religious freedom of the Catholic Church.

The contentious bill has seen Italian premier Mario Draghi hit back at the Vatican over what many see as its attempts to 'interfere' in Italy's affairs, reminding the senate on Wednesday: "Ours is a secular state, not a religious state."

Alessandra Mussolini backs Zan bill with this photo from April

In supporting the bill Mussolini says she has joined "a campaign for a battle that I consider more than fair," backing up her views by posting a photo on social media in April showing her with "Zan" written on the palm of her hand, and more recently dressed in a flamboyant costume with rainbow colours.

The so-called "Zan law" - named after politician and LGBTQ activist Alessandro Zan - seeks to punish acts of discrimination and incitement to violence against gay, lesbian, transgender and disabled people, as well as making misogyny a hate crime.

However those on the conservative side of the debate say the bill risks hampering freedom of expression, with the right-wing Lega party consistently trying to block the draft law which it describes as "divisive and ideological."

Conservatives object in particular to the proposal that Italy's schools would mark a national day against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia, to be held on 17 May.

In response to a question about those who claim the bill would limit freedom of expression, Mussolini stated in her Chi interview: "I am of the idea that, in this specific case, my freedom ends where that of others begins."

Asked about her new stance Mussolini said: "I would not call it conversion, nor redemption," adding: "All I do is analyse situations, without barriers and without being conditioned, in any way, by labels."

"Today more than ever we must all fight together against the many discriminations which, unfortunately, still exist," said Mussolini, adding that "every cultural revolution takes a very long time."

Asked whether she would be in favour of adoptions for same-sex couples, Mussolini said: “Children abandoned in institutions are the worst failure of any society. Love must win out over everything."