Saturday, August 11, 2007

When in Rome...

My two trips to Italy - in 1995 and 2000- were made even more special by timing them to concide with Gay Pride marches in different cities. I ended up befriending politically active gay and lesbian people, and really getting a picture of the problems LGBT Italians face. Since then, even more progress and conflict have continued.

Things are really reached a fever pitch in Rome among the LGBT community. Here are some recent events.

Italians protest at politician's anti-gay outburst

Aug. 11: ROME (Reuters) - Hundreds of Italians protested in the northern Italian city of Treviso on Saturday after the city's deputy mayor called for the "ethnic cleansing" of homosexuals from the area.

The protesters gathered outside city hall to demand Giancarlo Gentilini's resignation, some wearing pink triangles like the ones homosexual men had to wear in Nazi concentration camps.

Prosecutors were also looking into the deputy mayor's comments to see whether they might warrant a criminal investigation, Italian media reported on Saturday.

"Today's protest, which is joined by hundreds of people, will not be the last. It will be the first in a long series," said Aurelio Mancuso, the head of gay rights group Arcigay.

A member of the right-wing Northern League party, Gentilini said on Wednesday he was so fed up with gays having sex in a car park that he was going to order police to carry out "ethnic cleansing" of homosexuals.

"I will immediately give orders to my forces so that they can carry out an ethnic cleansing of f (the fricking Yahoo article has an error deleting some of the text here)," Gentilini told a local television station.

"(They) must go to other (cities) where they are welcome. Here in Treviso there is no chance for faggots or the like."

His comments were roundly condemned, with some members of his own far-right party siding with angry ministers in centre-left government of Prime Minister Romano Prodi.

Some lawmakers accused Gentilini of breaking Italian law by inciting hatred and violence against gay people.

Rex Wockner reports that last week, about 1,000 people staged a kiss-in at Rome's famed Colosseum Aug. 2 after police arrested two gay men there on July 27.

Backed by the national gay group Arcigay,
the twentysomething gay couple maintains
they were arrested merely for kissing in
the romantic 2 a.m.moonlight.
But seven members of Rome's Carabinieri paramilitary police filed a report
claiming one of the men was fellating the other.

The couple was accused of "lewd conduct," taken to a police station, then released.
A police spokesman said the men had engaged in "an obvious violation of
the norms that govern a place visited by thousands of people."

Gay marriage has become a big argument between government officials and Catholic bigwigs.

Back in March, Italy's interior minister has accused Roman Catholic bishops of trying to weaken the government by opposing new rights for unmarried and gay couples.

Giuliano Amato said the Church was meddling when it issued a directive at a bishops' conference calling a new bill "unacceptable and dangerous".

Recent polls show most of Italy's Catholics are in favour of changes to the law, despite Church opposition. About 500,000 unmarried Italian couples are without shared rights or benefits.

Back in February '07, a gay civil union bill was introduced, and got the Catholic heirarchy in a tither, of course.

In January, the debate got going, and politicans on both sides got into it in the media.

In Dec. '06, the city of Padua became the first in Italy to allow unmarried heterosexuals and homosexuals to register formally as "families based on ties of affection." The move provoked the wrath of the Vatican and the political right, both of which have challenged its constitutionality.

So, don't think that Italy's LGBT community is not politically active. They are undergoing a revolution, and you should support them however you can.

No comments: