Italian fashion icon Donatella Versace delivered a powerful speech at the CNMI Sustainable Fashion Awards during Milan Fashion Week where she criticized the far-right government's efforts in Italy to curtail the rights of LGBTQ+ couples and parents.
In her impassioned address, Versace decried the anti-LGBTQ+ policies that have been implemented by the government under Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, including restrictions on same-sex parenting rights and a national ban on surrogacy for same-sex couples, punishable with prison terms and hefty fines.
Versace, who currently serves as the chief creative officer of her out gay brother Gianni's eponymous luxury brand after he was murdered in 1997, also stressed the importance of the freedom to express one's identity openly, to build families based on love, and to love whomever one chooses.
“We all have to fight for freedom. At a time when transgender people still suffer terrible violence, at a time when children of same-sex couples are not considered their children, at a time when minority voices are being attacked by new laws,” she said. “At this time, we still have a lot to do.”
The audience at the CNMI Sustainable Fashion Awards responded with a heartfelt standing ovation to Versace's declaration. She was receiving the Humanitarian Award for Equity and Inclusivity and was joined on stage by Italian left-wing politician and LGBTQ+ activist Alessandro Zan, whom she praised for his critical voice in advocating for equality and inclusivity.
Versace shared a personal story about her brother Gianni coming out as gay when he was just 11 years old and how his love and acceptance had a profound impact on her. She proudly embraced her status as a queer icon and reiterated her commitment to fighting for freedom, equity, and inclusiveness.
“I built my chosen family with unconditional love,” she said. “My friends and my team are not defined by race, religion, age, gender or sexual orientation, but by creativity, openness, joy, and kindness — values that matter. If we were all more welcoming and understanding of one another, what an extraordinary world that would be.”