The Global Project Against Hate and Extremism today released a report profiling 13 far-right extremist groups in Italy.
The report, Far-Right Hate and Extremist Groups Italy (also available in Italian), details 13 hate and extremist groups — including the far-right political party Brothers of Italy — that GPAHE identifies as embracing beliefs and activities that demean, harass, or inspire violence against people based on their identity traits. Some of the groups, and the overall political landscape, have been shaped by Italy’s long and complex history of fascism.
Eleven of the 13 groups profiled are both anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ+, with some of those 11 also labeled with additional hateful ideologies, mostly white nationalist or neo-Nazi. The two remaining groups are both anti-LGBTQ+ and religious nationalist. See groups by ideology.
Five of the groups profiled are political parties, including Meloni’s Brothers of Italy (White Nationalist, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-LGBTQ+, Anti-Muslim), CasaPound (Neo-Nazi, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-LGBTQ+, Anti-Roma), Forza Nuova (White Nationalist, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-LGBTQ+), Lega per Salvini Premier (Anti-Woman, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-LGBTQ+, Anti-Roma, Anti-Muslim), and Popolo della Famiglia (Anti-LGBTQ+, Religious Nationalist).
“It’s frightening to see how much anti-LGBTQ+ and racist and nationalist anti-immigrant hate have infected mainstream politics in Italy,” said Wendy Via, co-founder and president of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. “It is especially troubling when we see political parties, including that of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, spreading the same hateful messages as the hardcore groups. Italy is a prime example of how far-right extremism exists on a spectrum, each point on the spectrum supporting another. And though there isn’t specific coordination between those who commit violence and those who enact rights-restricting policies, the total result is a less safe and less free society.”
The overlap between anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ+ groups is a trend also seen elsewhere around the globe as far-right groups expand the targets of their hate and extremism efforts in an attempt to build their movements. (GPAHE’s recent reports on Portugal and Ireland contained similar findings, and France to a lesser extent.) According to the report, both refugees and immigrants and LGBTQ+ people in Italy are harmed by this extremism. In response to 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 unwelcoming, and sometimes dangerous environments 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 report 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 around the globe. Lega’s 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. Casaggi 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.
Many of the groups are active on social media, but also organize real life events including festivals and concerts, which sometimes turn violent. Some of the groups also have a student or youth component, which recruits young people into extreme thinking and will likely keep these groups active for years to come.
The Italy report is the sixth in a series of country reports released by GPAHE. The organization previously released reports on France, Portugal, Bulgaria, Ireland, and Australia. Additional country reports will be released later in 2023 and 2024.
“Far-right extremist movements inspire terrorism, mass killings, and rights-restricting policies around the world, and as our report shows, the various movements are increasingly interconnected,” said Heidi Beirich, co-founder of Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. “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, so we can get ahead of it. We hope these reports will help advocates and policymakers do that.”