Defenders of women, girls and families stand firm against reproductive coercion as extremists gather in Verona

29th March 2019
Defenders of women, girls and families stand firm against reproductive coercion as extremists gather in Verona

Brussels, 29th March 2019

IPPF European Network is joining Italian and other European activists in Verona on 29-31 March, to defend against the threat posed by a large-scale meeting of extremists who are determined to attack women’s rights and the LGBTQI community.

As European advocates for reproductive freedom, we stand with all the defenders of women, girls and families in Italy. Together, we are demonstrating against the coercive tactics of groups attending the ‘World Congress of Families’. The WCF is an annual event which attacks the freedom and safety of women, girls and the LGBTQI community.

Activists and NGOs are mobilising in resistance to the oppressive and fundamentalist ideologies promoted by WCF participants. Their priorities include denying women and families access to contraceptive and abortion care, forcing people to remain married, defending intimate partner violence and refusing marriage equality.

Defenders of rights are alarmed that various Italian Government ministers have expressed support for the WCF, despite its extremist agenda. They include the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini, and the Ministers of Family and Education. Endorsement of the event is a clear threat to the secular nature of the Italian state. This is highlighted by the slogan that defenders of women’s and LGBTQI rights will rally behind: "Free Verona, secular Italy."

It is deplorable that authorities in an Italian city have welcomed  a group of extremists whose clearly stated agenda is to drag European societies back to the Dark Ages. The networks represented at the WCF are a danger to women and girls, to families, and to the LGBTQI community,” said Irene Donadio, Senior Lead for Strategic Partnerships at IPPF European Network.

We resist extremists and fundamentalists from the US and around the globe who seek to impose their coercive views on women, girls and families. We stand in solidarity with brave local people and groups defending a compassionate Europe which protects the health and freedom of all its people,” said Caroline Hickson, Regional Director of IPPF European Network.