On Sunday night (24 September) during Milan Fashion Week at the CNMI Sustainable Fashion Awards, celebrated as the “green Oscars of fashion,” Donatella Versace delivered a passionate speech condemning Italy’s right-wing government for its anti-LGBTQ+ policies. She was there to accept the humanitarian award for equity and inclusivity.
Addressing the attendees at the Teatro Alla Scala in Milan, Versace expressed her strong support for the LGBTQ+ community, stating, “Our government is trying to take away people’s rights to live as they wish, they are restricting our freedoms.” She criticized policies that have stripped people of basic human rights such as the freedom to form families, love whom they desire, and live authentically.
Key Highlights from Versace’s Address:
- Highlighted the suffering and violence against transgender individuals.
- Addressed the government’s disregard for the children of same-sex couples.
- Emphasized the attack on minority voices through new legislation.
- Expressed her unwavering support for Italian left-wing politician and LGBTQ+ activist, Alessandro Zan, stating, “Your voice is critical in our world, and I am here to support all that you fight for.”
- Spoke about her late brother Gianni Versace, who had confided in her about his sexuality when he was only 11.
- Advocated for values like creativity, openness, joy, kindness, and inclusivity in society.
The crowd reciprocated her sentiments with thunderous applause and a prolonged standing ovation.
Recent Anti-LGBTQ+ Policies
Under Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Italy has witnessed a resurgence of anti-LGBTQ+ laws. One such contentious policy introduced in March dictated that state agencies should cease registering children of same-sex couples. This resulted in international outrage, evidenced by protests such as the “Lesbians Are Mothers Too” demonstration outside London’s Italian embassy in August.
Furthermore, the government has fortified its stand against surrogacy for same-sex couples. It is now deemed illegal even to travel abroad for such procedures. Violators can face prison sentences of up to two years and hefty fines of up to 1 million euros ($1.06 million).
Fashion World’s Response
Donatella Versace’s address was not only applauded by attendees but also received acclaim from gay rights groups across Italy. The speech at La Scala in Milan earned her a humanitarian award, marking the importance of her stance against the government’s policies.
Franco Grillini, a seasoned gay rights activist, praised Versace for her bold stance, noting that she was the first prominent figure in Italy to overtly challenge the government’s homophobic tendencies. The Italian Gay Party further commended her advocacy and urged her to champion its forthcoming campaign. The party is rallying for a referendum on gay marriage in Italy, with plans to start collecting signatures in January.
Awards Night Overview
Sponsored by the National Chamber for Italian Fashion, in collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) of the United Nations Agency, and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the awards serve to honor international fashion figures committed to sustainability. Among the other honorees were:
- Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli received the Education of Excellence Award.
- Edward Enninful, British Vogue’s editor-in-chief, bagged the Visionary Award.
- Gucci securing the Ellen MacArthur Foundation Award for Circular Economy.
- Dolce & Gabbana earned the Craft & Italian Artisanship Award.
With Versace’s powerful speech and the evening’s recognition of their dedicated commitment to sustainability in the fashion industry, the CNMI Sustainable Fashion Awards marked a significant event during Milan Fashion Week.
A Call for Broader Action
While Donatella Versace’s words at Milan Fashion Week were impactful, they also underscored the importance of collective action. It’s not enough for one voice, no matter how influential, to speak out. The entire fashion community, from designers to consumers, must come together to champion the rights and freedoms of all individuals, irrespective of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other characteristic.
As fashion weeks around the world continue to unfold, there is hope that Milan’s events will set a precedent, inspiring other global fashion hubs like Paris, London, and New York to spotlight important social issues alongside sartorial displays. After all, fashion is not just about clothes; it’s a reflection of society’s values, aspirations, and the world we envision for future generations. Read more here