I think it’s different being politically or cultural “liberal”. For example, Italy was one of the first western nations to decriminalise homosexuality in 1890 (thanks Zanardelli Code, that outlawed death penalty too) and Fascism didn’t change that (although changing the code to reintroduce death penalty and some forms of pro-family state propaganda). At the opposite United Kingdom punished homosexuality as crime until 1960s (see famous Turing case). But no one would dare to say Fascist Italy was more liberal then UK, right?
So probably Italy is less authoritarian, corrupt, oppressive or something like that then China and for this reason is more liberal although without gay marriage.