Gay rights organisations and other activists are lashing out at the Italian government's decision to reject a bill calling for tougher sentences for those involved in hate crimes against homosexuals and transsexuals.
Parliament's lower house, dominated by Premier Silvio Berlusconi's conservatives, rejected the bill yesterday.
Opponents of the proposed bill maintain that gays must be treated like any other citizen.
Amnesty International said Italy's parliament "wasted an opportunity."
Roberto Stocco of the Arcigay association for the rights of homosexuals said today that politicians feared the bill could open the door to new civil rights laws, including gay marriages.