On The Right Side Of History: Talking About Citizenship To People

Original article: Amnesty International Italia, Baromentro dell’odio, page 39.(2022)

On February 5th, during the thirtieth anniversary of the Italian citizenship law, activists of the Network for Citizenship Reform launched a challenge with the hashtag #ècambiatoQUASItutto (“Almost everything has changed”), which signifies the time elapsed since 1992, the year the current law came into force, remaining unchanged despite the country’s transformation.

The campaign concluded with a flash mob in Piazza Santi Apostoli in Rome to express love for Italy and make a “serious proposal,” a romantic action inspired by the famous scene from the movie “Love Actually.” The official Instagram page of the event reads: “We ask the Constitutional Affairs Committee and Parliament to immediately approve a reform text and finally liberate our love story with Italy.”

The campaign goal was to prompt the government to reform the 1992 law before the end of this legislative term. Since 1998, many organizations have mobilized to reform the citizenship acquisition law. The most recent movement, the Network for Citizenship Reform, is composed of a group of activists and professionals, mainly of foreign origin, who, individually or organized, have decided to promote coordinated actions to support the reform of law 91/1992. Any individual or organization that aims to reform citizenship can participate in the initiative.

The objective of the network is the approval of the citizenship law reform. That’s why the network organizes activities to stimulate the creation of spaces for discussion on reform, placing citizenship at the center of political debate and obtaining the transformation of law 91/1992; to raise awareness among the population, especially voters, to participate in the citizenship debate; to encourage parliamentarians, political parties, and organizations to take an interest in citizenship issues; to stimulate critical thinking on the intersection of discrimination and highlight all the consequences for stateless persons.

It is in this context that the network has committed, since July 2021, to disseminating the campaign “On the Right Side of History”, conceived to place citizenship at the center of the political debate and stimulate a new phase of commitment by Parliament towards the reform of the citizenship law.

Why “On the Right Side of History”? Every historical period is marked by debates and opposition, particularly sharp when it comes to expanding the sphere of rights. Often, those opposed are those who perceive rights as privileges, to the exclusive advantage of a few. For example, in Italy, the recognition of rights regarding work, education, voting rights, and gender relations was historically limited to certain social groups.

Until the post-war period, women did not have the right to self-determination but depended, in fact, on their fathers and husbands, and they didn’t have the right to vote, which is now considered one of the fundamental rights of all. In the same way, today Education right is no longer reserved only for those belonging to a certain social and economic class.

For this reason, the campaign “On the Right Side of History” arises in continuity with the achievements made in the second half of the 20th century, as today’s opponents of citizenship reform are not at all different from the past rivals of those social achievements that today appear indispensable.

For each class of rights connected to the citizenship theme, the network has collaborated with various civil society organizations to create the most effective form of communication towards citizens sensitive to the issue, stimulate activation, and take a position to support access to new citizenship rights.

Being on the right side of history means growing an unbiased Italy, an Italy that cultivates the garden of rights, an Italy that chooses to invest in a liberated future, following the reforms that today represent the identity of our freedom and the fabric of our citizenship.

Translated by Michela Fantozzi.

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