An estimated 20,000 people have protested in Verona, Italy against a conference which has brought a global network of anti-gay, anti-abortion and anti-feminist activists to the northern Italian city.

The hosting of the World Congress of Families (WCF), a US coalition that promotes the values of the Christian right, has been especially contentious in Italy as it is supported by the far-right League, a partner in the country’s coalition government.

Matteo Salvini, the party’s leader and Italy’s deputy prime minister, spoke at the event on Saturday, March 30, 2019 evening.

According to Salvini, he was there “to support a festive day with a smile: the right to be a mother, a father and a grandparent”.

Salvini pledged not to change Italy’s abortion law, known as Law 94, but said the country needed to reverse its shrinking population.

“Italians need to start bringing children into the world. A country that doesn’t make babies is a country that dies.”
– Matteo Salvini

The protest was brought together by about 70 rights associations from across the country.

Christian right summit in Verona draws massive protest:
The Guardian

Verona is a city on the Adige river in Veneto, Italy. It is one of the seven provincial capitals of the region. It is the second largest city municipality in the region and the third largest in northeast Italy.

It is one of the main tourist destinations in northern Italy, because of its artistic heritage and several annual fairs, shows, and operas, such as the lyrical season in the Arena, the ancient amphitheater built by the Romans.

Two of William Shakespeare’s plays are set in Verona: Romeo and Juliet and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. It is unknown if Shakespeare ever visited Verona or Italy, but his plays have lured many visitors to Verona and surrounding cities. The city has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of its urban structure and architecture.