Former Mafia home to become shelter for LGBTI community

The local council decided to give the former Mafia house to a LGBTI group to promote acceptance

LGBTI people and migrants fleeing persecution will be able to call a former Mafia villa home.

The city of Castel Volturno had opened bids for organizations to take over a three-storey house in the coastal town.

Mafia boss Francesco Rea’s villa was seized in the late 1990s. It has remained empty since then, until the the council decided to put it to good use.

The town’s mayor, Dimitri Russo, said the council decided to give the winning contract on 4 June to an LGBTI and migrant support organization to help promote acceptance.

‘We want to send a message of acceptance,’ Russo, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Rain Arcigay Caserta, is the organization that won the tender to use the former crime hub.

According to the organization it is the first time a seized Mafia property has been used for an LGBTI organization.

‘The building, which for its murky history was one of the traces of the excessive power of the Mafia in our country, thanks to the vision of Mayor Dimitri Russo and the whole city council, we can redeem that story and (the center) is set to become one of the symbols of the clear contrast to organized crime and of a community that out of those ashes reconstructs a place of inclusion, acceptance, solidarity and respect for the other,’ said Gabriele Piazzoni, national secretary of Arcigay.

The organization has been working since 2015 to find a space for a LGBT shelter. It had set its sights on Rea’s seized villas back then.

A safe space for all
Arcigay’s LGBTI center will provide temporary accommodation to people in difficult situations. Those people will include migrants not accepted for their sexuality or gender identity.

The 300 square-meters building will feature a kitchen, multi-purpose spaces, bathrooms and several bedrooms.

The plans and artist’s designs of what the new LGBTI center will look like. | Photo: Caserta Pride

Even though the group is excited about their win, they still have a huge task ahead of them. Arcigay has set up an important crowdfunding campaign to help pay for renovations.

Arcigay Caserta’s president, Bernardo Diana, said the center will provide sanctuary in Italy’s notoriously homophobic south.

Diana said until now the closest LGBTI center was in Rome about 200 km (125 miles) away. That made it necessary to have something local.

‘Yesterday’s vote in the City Council brings to a conclusion a path begun in 2015 that testifies to the tenacity of a political will to which we give our most enthusiastic applause,’ he said.

‘It was very exciting to hear from the mayor Dimitri Russo the name of our association among the first four institutions… to receive in final assignment a property confiscated from organized crime ”

by Shannon Power
Source – Gay Star News