Image Credit: demonstrators at the World Congress of Families in Verona, Italy

In Fair Verona, a Fight for Family

My husband and I touched down in Venice in late March, rented a Fiat 500, and drove through a rolling Italian countryside spotted with vineyards. Our destination was the medieval town of Verona.

Verona has become something of a political flashpoint lately. It is the symbolic home of the Lega Nord, the now-leading conservative half of Italy’s coalition government. Matteo Salvini, Lega leader and Deputy Prime Minister of Italy, has made headlines the world over for his refusal to allow UN ships full of migrants to land on Italy’s shores. We were there because Verona was the host city to the 13th meeting of the World Congress of Families, for which I work. It’s a global gathering of the world’s top pro-family activists, scholars, and NGOs. The Lega itself had invited the Congress, and Verona had given us the Gran Guardia palace as meeting space, free of charge.

By the time we arrived, the media uproar had been intense for weeks. They called us a hate group, demanded Verona back out, and promoted a petition for local hotels to deny lodging to Congress participants. Police milled about on the front steps of the Gran Guardia, and by the final day of the conference—when both Salvini and then Family Minister Lorenzo Fontana addressed the crowd—over 1,000 polizia and carabinieri in riot gear, as well as groups of private security in jeans, leather jackets,...

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