The Italian government passed a law that clamps down on asylum rights and boosts funds for police, handing Interior Minister and right-wing League party leader Matteo Salvini his first major legislative win.
The lower house of parliament voted 396 to 99 late on Wednesday to pass the law championed by Salvini, who took office in June in a coalition with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement.
The new law eliminates humanitarian grounds for granting protection to refugees — asylum that is not tied to political persecution or war. It also funnels millions of euros to law enforcement and anti-mafia administrators.
“I’m willing to host women and children who are escaping from war … But all the others, no,” Salvini said on Thursday, referring to the new legislation. “I don’t want to be seen as an idiot.”
Italy will still award asylum to war refugees or victims of political persecution. But it will no longer hand out “humanitarian” asylum, which was given to those who had “serious reasons” to flee their home country – a category that has often included homosexuals fleeing harsh anti-gay laws in Africa.
More than 20,000 people, or 25 percent of those who sought asylum, got “humanitarian” protection last year, and the tens of thousands of others received it in previous years will now likely lose their legal status when their documents expire.