Sovereignty on the attack: the new Speaker of the Chamber Lorenzo Fontana and his lifelong friends

Right and ultra-right parties, Catholics, evangelists, Orthodox, Russian tycoons and American conservatives

Luisa Betti Dakli
Luisa Betti Dakli
DonnexDiritti Network International Women Director

The overwhelming wave of authoritarianism, populism and intolerance, in Europe and in the world, continuously conveys messages of exclusion: from the racist, divisive and misogynistic policies of the ex President of the United States, Donald Trump, up to arrive at the populist and authoritarian governments of Hungary and Poland, which continue their process of limiting the freedoms of citizens, following the example of Putin’s Russia or China.

Matteo Salvini and Lorenzo Fontana

Authoritarianisms and populisms that appear as an ineluctable global drift with political groups that seek to replace democracy with their own selfish interpretation, passing it off as what the majority wants. This model attracts the admiration of Western populists who, once in office, have the advantage of exploiting the power of the state, expanding their demagoguery: like the vice-premier and minister Matteo Salvini, who is weaving the lines to unite all the sovereign groups present in the European Parliament to build a compact right block. In this advance of a policy that demonizes minorities and undermines democratic institutions, women are undoubtedly one of the first targets to hit and sink.


Protect of the natural family

But also attacks on NGOs that work with migrants or with women trying to escape violence. A comeback to the right that does not concern only Italy or Europe but the whole world. (…) Some time ago the World Congress of Families (Wcf) met in Moldova involving parties and movements that defend the “natural family” and indissoluble marriage and that fight against abortion and civil unions. Greeted by Salvini with a message from the stage where “the founding values of our cultures” and “efforts to protect the natural family” were recommended, the congress warmly welcomed the Vatican secretary of state, Pietro Parolin.

After just six months, the WCF was rescheduled before the European elections in May, i.e. for the end of March, in Italy. The chosen city is Verona, a city that presents itself, in many ways, as a laboratory in which to verify the effectiveness of far-right policies, closely linked to ultra-reactionary religious ideals: actions on the local territory which can then become government programs thanks to the Lega, which transversally unites all these groups, giving them institutional credibility. The WCF envisaged in Verona has in fact obtained the patronage of the Province, Region and Ministry for the family, and foresees speeches by Tajani, president of the European Parliament, Salvini, minister of the Interior as well as deputy premier, Bussetti, minister of Education, and Fontana, ex minister for the family and now Speaker of the Chamber. But where did this gathering come from?


World Congress of Families (Wcf)
Konstantin Malofeev

Here, together with the American Allan Carlson, current president emeritus of the WCF, and the Russians Anatoly Antonov and Viktor Medkov sociology professors in Moscow, they gave life to an organization that was supposed to wake up and guide the global Christian right, putting Russia back in a central position after the USSR period. Main objectives: defend the traditional family, support campaigns against abortion and homosexuals. A project financed by the Orthodox billionaire Konstantin Malofeev, Putin’s trusted man who holds the ranks of all the far right in Europe.

Simone Pillon, Brian Brown e Massimo Gandolfini

Today the WCF is managed by the president of the homophobic National Organization for Marriage, Brian Brown, who keeps close ties between Russia and the American religious right, and who is one of the most influential American anti-LGBT activists in the world, known for having prevented the adoptions of Russian children by foreign gay couples, and a great friend of the Hungarian premier, the ultra-reactionary Viktor Orbán. The WCF is now one of the main poles of the right in the East and constitutes a point of reference for the US evangelicals of the extreme right, who also played a fundamental role in the election of the new president in Brazil, the fascist Bolsonaro, becoming one of the anti-abortion organizations and strongest anti-Lgbt people on the planet.

Marine Le Pen

Moscow, which played and plays an important role in the resurgence of the international Christian right, has long hosted neo-Nazi conferences from around the world, supports the fundamentalist American right, and its banks finance far-right groups everywhere, including the French National Front, with direct relations also with Trump’s Republican right. The defense of the “natural” family would therefore be a screen that hides a war waged jointly by ultra-Catholic and far-right movements, which has as its primary objectives the self-determination of women and civil rights, to then expand to restrict everyone’s rights on the model Russian: from the repression of free information to the one of free thought.

“One of Us”
Vladimir Yakunin

Five years ago, two million people signed and presented the “One of Us” petition to the European Commission to safeguard conception from day one. Campaigns financed by Russia and the United States in an interweaving of American evangelical institutions, European Catholics and Russian Orthodox oligarchs. Like Vladimir Yakunin, financier of CitizenGo, an important pro-life association which in Spain made the campaign “Abortion is the leading cause of femicide in the world” viral, taken up in Italy by deniers of male violence and by the heads of the Family committee Day, but also by Lorenzo Fontana. A worldwide platform, that of CitizenGo, which launches campaigns in twelve languages by putting pressure on institutions, governments and organizations of fifty countries.

Jay Sekulow

A counterpart of the European Center for Law and Justice which from Strasbourg puts pressure on the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the OSCE, on issues such as life, family, education, but which is controlled by Jay Sekulow, the most influential evangelical in the United States and Trump’s advocate. Returning to Verona, which was chosen to host the WCF this year, it should not be underestimated that it is not only the city of the Northern League member Lorenzo Fontana, a staunch anti-abortionist with strong ties to the extreme right, but also the municipality where the first motion against the voluntary termination of pregnancy was presented.


A motion that according to Roberto Todeschini, youth manager of the League, will be brought to all the municipalities of Italy “with the aim of extending it to the regional and national level”, so much so that the motion was then proposed, without being approved, even to Ferrara, Rome, Milan, Modena and in Genoa, where it was welcomed instead. Values in line with Lorenzo Fontana for whom “the family is the natural one” and, precisely, “abortion is the leading cause of feminicide in the world”.

No194 Committee
Roberto Fiore

As member of the No194 Committee since 2011, Fontana signed to repeal law 194 and to punish women and doctors with a sentence of between eight and twelve years. An extremist Catholic, the minister of the League represents the perfect marriage between the ideology of the extreme right, for which migratory flows lead to “a devastating watering down of the identity of the country that welcomes”, and the principles of a religious fundamentalism which, if applied, it would erase the secularism of the state.

Vilmar Pavesi

Linked to Vilmar Pavesi, the ultra-reactionary monarchist parish priest who celebrates mass in Latin, for Fontana the values to be defended “are those of the Catholic Church” against gay couples. Often present in pro-life events, Fontana in 2015 was at Family Pride in Verona, organized by Forza Nuova and the Christus Rex club, and in a photo, he appears with Fn militants and with the current Veronese mayor, Federico Sboarina, very close to far-right groups.

Filippo Savarese

But Fontana is also a great supporter of ProVita Onlus, which promotes Family Day and the March for Life, and which has Alessandro Fiore, son of Forza Nuova leader, Roberto Fiore, as its spokesman. While Toni Brandi, president of ProVita, Jacopo Coghe, president of Generazione Famiglia, and Filippo Savarese, who directs CitizenGO in Italy, are part of the Committee Let’s Defend Our Children, whose spokesman is Massimo Gandolfini, leader of Family Day, and they all belong to the WCF platform, including Novæ Terræ which, according to the investigation carried out by Francesca Sironi and Paolo Biondani for L’Espresso (“Rain of rubles to Catholicists”, 16 November 2018), allegedly intercepted Russian funding over the years to organize throughout the world campaigns against abortion and gays:


Novæ Terræ foundation

which between 2012 and 2014 alone cleared 3 billion and 104 million dollars, 519 million euros, 1 billion and 220 million rubles, 3 million pounds. Flows also went to the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, where Steve Bannon, the most important theorist of world sovereignty, former Trump strategist, is planning the school for young leaders of the European right at the Trisulti Charterhouse.

Lorenzo Fontana and Simone Pillon

But who was at the Novæ Terræ foundation from 2015 to 2018? Ex Senator Simone Pillon, father of the much-debated bill 735, which is one of the keys to this transversal deployment. The neocatechumenal senator is in fact both against abortion and against gay unions, he is naturally for the traditional family, but crosses the right-wing Catholic world, from WCF to Family Day, to also position himself as an organic and strategic element in the associations of hoped-for fathers, strenuous supporters of his bill, to become one of the leading men in the meetings at the conferences organized by the psychologist Marco Casonato, a former Bicocca researcher in favor of parental alienation and now in prison for murder.


Extract from the afterword “Sovereignism on the attack: women and children first” by Luisa Betti Dakli in “Our bodies as antibodies – Women’s response to the reaction of the right” by Beatrice Brignone and Francesca Druetti, with contributions by Giulia Siviero and Claudia Torrisi (ed. People 2019) – Cover Photo: in the center Brian Brown (president of the National Organization for Marriage who tried to prevent the approval of egalitarian marriage in the States), Lorenzo Fontana (current Speaker of the Chamber, ex former minister of the League), Simone Pillon (ex former senator of the League, rapporteur of the bill to limit divorce and make custody compulsory by introducing parental alienation into a law), Toni Brandi (president of Provita Onlus and member of the council of the World Congress of Families), Massimo Gandolfini (president of the “family day”, of the committee that says it wants to “defend” children and of the committee that wants to demonstrate that homophobia should be understood as unnatural) and Jacopo Coghe (president of Manif Pour Tous Italia and employee of CitizienGo on the payroll of Hatzer Oil Arsuaga by Ignacio).


This is the english section of DonnexDiritti Network, that deals with International Human Rights matters, focusing on women and children. International Women is ran by the Journalist Luisa Betti Dakli, Human Rights Expert and DonnexDiritti Network Editor.

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