The separation between church and state is guaranteed by the Italian constitution, which gives equal status to all religions throughout the nation. Despite this, Judge Luigi Tosti has been banned from Italian courtrooms and public office for his steadfast opposition to the presence of crucifixes in public and secular spaces, like courtrooms and schools.
The crusading magistrate received his third conviction on February 21 for protesting the presence of a courtroom crucifix in the central city of L’Aquila. Tosti refused to participate in court proceedings unless ‘the secular nature of the assembly [be] restored’ and the cross be removed. His lawyer adamantly argued that the ‘one-metre by half-metre object, in itself, invalidates the hearing That doesn’t mean offending Christians. But removing the crucifix means removing a privilege so that places of law can become truly secular and neutral’.
However, the court in l’Aquila sentenced him to a one-year suspended prison term and banned him from holding public office for the 12-month period. The 59-year-old magistrate is currently serving the second of two similar bans for refusing to perform his duties in the central Italian town of Camerino, located in the Marche region.
According to the Italian constitution, Catholicism is not the country’s state religion, so crucifixes in public spaces are not mandatory in Italy. They are, however, customary, as a large part of the Italian cultural identity has been rooted in Catholicism for centuries. Local bodies generally decide whether they want crosses in courtrooms or other public buildings.