We would like to raise your attention on the recent increase of homophobia in Italy.
Every day, we are seeing a growing number of hate crimes being committed against people because of their sexual orientation and their gender identity. In the last two months, Arcigay recorded an exponential number of cases all over the country of lesbian and gay people and couples being threatened, assaulted or exposed to public ridicule just because they were walking hand by hand, kissing or standing outside LGBT bars.
Recently, In Ostia, a seaside town near Rome, a gay couple was forced out of a beach resort after other people complained that they were kissing1. In Milan, in the last month alone, our local branch recorded five assaults to gay people, who were attacked and beaten only because they were standing outside LGBT bars or public spaces where they were used to meet2. In two other circumstances, a homosexual couple in Torre del Lago3 (Tuscany) and another one in Cagliari4 (Sardinia) who were just kissing on the beach were targeted. Passers-by threatened them to call the police if they didn’t stop. In another incident, hospital treatment was needed in Pesaro, where two young gay people were assaulted and beaten outside a gay bar5.
Together with the increasing homophobia, LGBT bars and pubs throughout the country are also systematically harassed with unreasonable controls and exposed to constant and obsessive audits by different authorities. Outdoor venues where gay people usually meet are sifted by the local police or fenced or even closed down by local authorities – who use as a pretext that homosexual people meeting there are “immoral”. For example, this has happened in the Piave Spresiano riverside (Padova), where the town’s mayor has agreed to create “groups of volunteers” to patrol the venue, and has said that homosexuals are sick6; or on the Oglio a Soncino riverside (Cremona), where the police has been asked to raid the place7; or again two other beaches, in Gaeta (Latina)8 and Ancona9, where local authorities have installed fences and CCTV cameras to prevent gay encounters.
LGBT people in Italy are beginning to live in an intolerable climate of fear, which reminds of a sort of witch hunting. This is a country where not only the rights of LGBT couple are not recognized – despite a recent Constitutional Court ruling10 – but, more alarming, a country where the Parliament rejected a bill that contained measures to fight homophobia – stating (and putting in writing) that the very expression “sexual orientation” is in itself “ambiguous”, as it could include things like paedophilia, zoophilia, necrophilia and incest.
We ask for your help to raise concern with the Italian government and institutions over this new wave of homophobia. Italy has never been a country where LGBT people have been treated equally, but now it is beginning to be even unsafe for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people.
Stefano Bucaioni – Executive Board International Affairs
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Arcigay was founded in 1985 and is Italy’s foremost national LGBT rights organisation. In 2009 its membership exceeded 120,000. It acts as an umbrella organization for 114 (50 political/cultural and 64 recreational) local centres, throughout 48 provinces in Italy. Arcigay is a non-profit organisation which operates on a voluntary basis. Its aim is to combat homophobia, transphobia, heterosexism, prejudice and anti-LGBT discrimination. It is committed to achieving equal status and equal opportunities among all individuals regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity and aims to reinforce a full, free and happy life for LGBT people.