Last week the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE) released a report profiling 13 far-right hate and extremist groups in Italy, including Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s party Brothers of Italy: Far-Right Hate and Extremist Groups, Italy.
Eleven of the 13 groups profiled are both anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ+, a frightening reflection of how much anti-LGBTQ+ and racist and nationalist anti-immigrant hate have infected mainstream politics in Italy, similar to what is happening in the United States.
Five of the groups that GPAHE profiled are political parties, including Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy (White Nationalist, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-LGBTQ+, Anti-Muslim) and Lega per Salvini Premier (Anti-Woman, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-LGBTQ+, Anti-Roma, Anti-Muslim), also represented in parliament. As we’ve seen in the U.S. and in other countries, it’s troubling that major political parties in Italy are spreading the same hateful and polarizing messages as more hardcore groups.
Conspiracy theories and U.S., international connections
Refugees, immigrants and LGBTQ+ people in Italy are harmed by this extremism. Targeting refugees and migrants, often coming from the North African coast, extremist groups — including political parties — are adept at spreading the racist and terrorism-inspiring “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, leading to an unwelcoming, and sometimes dangerous environment for immigrants. And, when it comes to LGBTQ+ equality, Italy ranks 24th out of 27 EU member countries, behind Hungary at number 20, according to ILGA-Europe’s latest reporting on LGBTQ+ human rights.
The research shows international connections between Italian groups and others across the world. Most notably, Brother of Italy’s Meloni has close connections with powerful far-right groups including the virulently anti-LGBTQ+ U.S.-based World Congress of Families and she, along with other members of her party, has attended the American CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) with other far-right leaders from around the globe. Lega’s Matteo Salvini has connections with Chega!, the growing far-right political party in Portugal, recently profiled by GPAHE. Lega and the anti-LGBTQ+ and religious nationalist group Pro Vita e Famiglia Onlus also have close connections with the World Congress of Families. Casaggì has partnered with Institute Illiad, a French group also named by GPAHE, and CasaPound has connections with the now banned Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn.
Growth of hate and extremist groups is dangerous
As GPAHE suggests, far-right extremist movements inspire terrorism, mass killings, and rights-restricting policies around the world, and as the report shows, the various movements are increasingly interconnected across borders. Community safety and democracies are at risk. It’s critical that people, locally and globally, understand the far-right extremist landscape, how it operates, and how the dots are connected within countries and transnationally in order to counter the threats from these groups. GPAHE’s country extremist reports help advocates and policymakers do just that.