News (World)

Lawyer says she’ll sue over Italy’s separate men’s & women’s voting lines

Separate men's and women's rooms
Photo: Shutterstock

A lawyer in Italy is speaking out about the country’s rarely-used gender-divided voting system.

After elections were held yesterday in Italy – which resulted in the election of the far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni – attorney and LGBTQ activist Cathy La Torre spoke out about one of the country’s antiquated election laws that allowed for separate lines for men and women at the polls, as well as separate lists of voters based on gender.

The law, passed in 1967, also allows married women to identify themselves with their husband’s name at the polls.

Generally, voting places in Italy aren’t divided on the basis of gender, but election authorities decided to use the 1967 law to divide them on the basis of gender this weekend. For many Italians, it was the first time that they stood in an election line based on gender.

There has not been an official explanation as to why the lines were divided by gender, but some speculate that it was to handle waits of over an hour.

“Gender-segregated queues are a violation of privacy of all those who are making a gender transition,” La Torre told The Guardian. She said that she can’t be a plaintiff in a case to challenge the law because she’s not transgender, but “I am a lawyer and I can launch a battle to change this law.”

“Thousands of trans people are forced to stand in a queue different from their gender and therefore forced to let everyone present know that they are trans people,” she continued, something that opens them to discrimination.

“And if you ask the authorities why, the answer is always the same: it has always been like this. And for those who tell me that these are trifles, I say feeling humiliated is never a trifle.”

La Torre tried to speak out against the law when voting this weekend, asking her polling station to note her belief that having separate men and women lines for voting is a “violation of privacy rights and personal dignity.” She said that the police accepted her request but that one poll worker called her “crazy.” She’s now suing him for discrimination.

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