19 Italy’s Health Minister Slams Hospital For Refusing Gay Blood 9/05
20 Italy snaps over gay poster excess 9/05 (Photo included)
21 Vatican newspaper says homosexual men not suitable for priesthood 11/05
June 16, 2000
Italy Focuses on Homosexuality
by Candice Hughes
Rome (AP) – The furor over whether an international Gay Pride festival should take place in the midst of a Vatican Holy Year has done something the event’s foes never expected – made homosexuality in Italy the talk of the town.
Accommodating, but at heart conformists, Italians have always taken a "don’t ask, don’t tell” approach. "Our country has a double morality. Some things can be done, but they can’t be spoken about,” says Niki Vendola, the only openly gay member of Parliament.
So strong was the taboo that when a Cabinet minister broke it recently, he was criticized not for being bisexual but for talking about it. This couldn’t have been what the Vatican intended when it went public this spring with its objections to the World Pride Roma 2000 scheduled for July 1-9, which it said would be an affront to the religious pilgrims visiting Rome for the Holy Year.
Insiders say the Vatican was especially annoyed because the festival coincides with the Holy Year week devoted to Polish pilgrims – a group especially dear to the Polish-born pope.
The opposition backfired. By attracting so much implacable ire, the festival has energized Italy’s long-reticent gay community and become a cause celebre in liberal circles.
"People are talking, people are coming out,” said Deborah Oakley-Melvin, World Pride’s international director. “The political and media attention has made this event exceptional.” The festival is expected to bring as many as 200,000 gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people to Rome. Courtesy of its opponents, what started out as a party is becoming a political event as well.
Among the additions to the usual festival fare – art exhibits, fashion shows, music, films, a big parade – is a roundtable featuring the human rights group Amnesty International. "A lot of activists weren’t coming because they thought it was just another pride event,” said Oakley-Melvin, a veteran festival organizer from San Francisco. “They’ve changed their minds.”
The Vatican was clear about its desire to have World Pride postponed or moved, but also relatively restrained. Things began overheating when politicians jumped into the fray, along with a small but vocal band of neo-fascists so far to the right that they think the Vatican – which holds that homosexual acts are a sin – is soft on homosexuality.
The flap threw the city and the premier, whose governments are leftist and viewed by Italians as tolerant, into a tizzy. Mayor Francesco Rutelli began backtracking on an event his city had approved in 1998 and Premier Giuliano Amato declared World Pride “inopportune.” Further spicing things up, the wives of the mayor and the premier both differed publicly with their husbands.
Teetering between what appears to be a desire to please the Vatican and at the same time not to seem to kowtow to it, the city stopped short of canceling World Pride. Instead, it whittled away at the edges. It withdrew official sponsorship, rejected most festival venues and pulled funding for cultural events, forcing the festival into a frenzy of last-minute reorganization.
Oakley-Melvin said all events must take place in the Circus Maximus, the ancient Roman chariot grounds in central Rome that offer not a whisper of shade against the brutal summer sun. City officials insist it is the venue easiest to protect against counter-demonstrations by the tiny neo-fascist group, Forza Nuova. The organizers also canceled a few events the city objected to most strongly, including the drag king contest and a photo exhibit involving both biblical themes and homosexuality.
The big battle now is over the route for the parade, the festival’s central event. The city wants the parade to go no further than the Circus Maximus; the organizers are vowing to forge ahead with the original plan and go all the way to the Colosseum. It was no accident that Rome was chosen as the host city for World Pride in 2000 during the Roman Catholic church’s Holy Year.
"It’s the moment for visibility,” Oakley-Melvin said. "It’s the moment to open a discussion about religion and homosexuality. That’s the whole point of Pride: Visibility and equality.”
On the Net: World Pride festival: http://www.worldpride2000.com
15 November 2001
Erotic Roman frescoes unveiled at Pompeii baths complex
by Bruce Johnston in Rome
A set of Roman erotic frescoes were unveiled in Pompeii yesterday after excavation and restoration work over almost half a century.
They were found at the Terme Suburbane (suburban baths), so called because of their position outside the gates of Pompeii’s principal archaeological area. The huge, two-storey complex included hot and cold indoor baths, a heated outdoor pool, what may have amounted to the first sauna, and the only documented example in the ancient world of a unisex changing room.
Unusually for the ancient Romans, both sexes were able to use the baths at the same time, experts at the site said. Parts of the complex emerged as excavations went on between 1950 and 1980. The erotic frescoes were discovered in the changing room in the late 1980s. The scenes, each of which originally related to a clothing locker, depict among other things group sex and oral sex.
One scene shows a lesbian encounter which an official at Pompeii, Raffaella Leveque, said was the "only example of Sapphic art in the ancient Roman world". The discovery of the erotica, some of which are humourous or bawdy, has led to a theory that the baths also contained a lupanare, or brothel.
Excavations failed to turn up any sign of the usual cubicles which the ancients reserved for this purpose. Pompeii was destroyed in AD 79 when Vesuvius erupted and covered the city in ash.
February 14, 2002
Italy priest expelled for marrying gay couples
Rome – A priest who scandalised the Roman Catholic church by marrying dozens of homosexual couples in Italy was expelled from the diocese and stripped of his priestly duties, church leaders said on Thursday.
Despite years of warnings, Father Franco Barbero, 63, of the northern Italian city of Pinerolo married not only divorcees but more than 30 gay couples, forcing the church to take action, the local bishop said. "His moral stance and the celebration of pseudo-marriages among homosexual people are, basically, in serious contrast to the doctrine of the Catholic Church," Bishop Pier Giorgio Debernardi said in a statement quoted by Italian media. Local church officials issued a statement on Barbero’s expulsion but declined to give any further details.
"Franco Barbero…is no longer in communion with the church and the ecclesiastic community…he will no longer exercise any recognised pastoral ministry," the statement read. The Vatican has in the past strongly attacked moves in Europe and abroad to allow homosexual marriages and to give gay couples the same rights as heterosexual married couples. It teaches that homosexual tendencies are not sinful but homosexual acts are.
The Pinerolo bishop said he had tried in vain for more than 30 years to convince Barbero of the error of his ways, "but he has always made decisions to not accept and embrace Catholic doctrine." Barbero also denied basic tenets of the Roman Catholic faith including the virginity of Mary and he refused to recognise the teaching authority of the church, the bishop said.
The Pinerolo incident was the second scandal to rock the church in as many weeks. Father Ugo Moretto, former manager of the Vatican TV centre, recently admitted that he was having an affair with his secretary and that he would soon be a father. Moretto told a local newspaper this week that he would get married as soon as possible and was looking for a new job. "After months of suffering, I am at peace with my conscience: in a few months I will be a father."
June 7, 2002
Italian Gay couple test the legal limits with Dutch marriage
by Elisabetta Povoledo, Italy Daily
When Antonio Garullo and Mario Ottocento got married last Saturday in The Hague, they crowned a long-standing dream, and began what promises to be an even longer judicial nightmare. The gay couple chose to marry in the Netherlands because it is currently the only European Union country that grants heterosexual and homosexual unions equal legal standing.
Garullo and Ottocento were the first foreigners to be married in the country and they are the first gay Italians to legally wed. But when the happy couple flew back to their home in Latina, south of Rome, on Tuesday, they returned to their status as de facto singles because Italy does not recognize same-sex marriages.
Charging that their lack of legal status denies them fundamental human rights, the couple is about to challenge existing legislation in court. And in the eyes of many, they have already become paladins against an unjust situation affecting all unmarried couples, regardless of their sexual orientation.
"We could have legitimated our cohabitation privately and not have gone public with the marriage," said Garullo from his home in Latina. "But we decided that if no one took the first step the situation would never change."
Their next move will be to ask an appeals court in Rome to ratify their Dutch marriage, a procedure required of people who marry outside their home country. "But this time, the request will be rejected because Italy doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages," said Ezio Mensione, the couple’s lawyer. He explained that they would challenge that rejection in the Cassazione, Italy’s highest appeals court.
There, too, they expect to lose, but Mensione believes the high court might send the case on to the Constitutional Court because of its unique nature. Garullo and Ottocento also plan to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, where Mensione reckons they have a good chance of winning a discrimination case against Italy.
Citing the Treaty of Amsterdam, which forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation, the lawyer was certain his clients’ rights would be recognized. But a civil servant with the European Commission in Brussels said that their changes of winning a discrimination case in Strasbourg were slight. He pointed out that the Council of Europe’s 1950 Convention for Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms made specific reference to marriage between men and women and not to members of the same sex.
Besides, he said, Article 13 of the Treaty of Amsterdam only enables the Council to take appropriate action to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation, but it cannot force a member state to recognize something that is against the policy of the member state’s legislation. "One thing is discrimination, another is recognition of a marriage between two homosexual men," said the European civil servant, who asked to remain anonymous. "For the time being, I don’t think they have a chance, who knows, perhaps in ten years."
More optimistically, Alberto Baliello, who follows legal issues for Arcigay, Italy’s largest gay rights group, said that even if they did win in Strasbourg, the victory would be hollow. "Even if they find Italy guilty, the court will impose a fine and nothing will happen," he said explaining that the court’s decisions do not mandate changes to national law.
The more important battle, he said, was to change Italian legislation that not only does not recognize rights to same-sex couples, but extends that discourtesy to unmarried couples in general. "Basically there is no alternative to marriage," he said.
Most EU countries recognize same-sex unions, granting them at least some of the same rights reserved to heterosexual couples, and Belgium will soon follow the Netherlands’ lead regarding same sex marriages. In late 2000, Germany passed a "common life" law recognizing certain rights much like the PACS in France, the civil solidarity pact that applies to all non-traditional unions.
Italy, on the other hand, grants no rights to same-sex unions. A few cities, namely Bologna, Florence, Pisa, Ferrara and Terni have instituted civil registers that take note of same-sex marriages, but they have no legal implications. Only the Valle d’Aosta region gives certain rights to same sex couples, like the ability to take out a loan together.
Apart from their symbolic crusade, the Latina couple, Mensione said, were fighting for the more practical collateral rights "like pension reversibility and other benefits. Over the past few decades, scattered bills granting equal rights to unmarried couples have made their way into Parliament, but none has ever made it even to a preliminary discussion. Many gay rights activists fault the left for not taking up the cause. "That’s the problem with the left, they are good on the collective rights but don’t do much for the individual," rued Mensione.
Saturday’s wedding created quite a ruckus, particularly after Antonio Gagliardi, Latina’s chief prosecutor, said he considered the nuptial vows to be nothing more than "a folkloristic gesture." He said he would object to Garullo and Ottocento’s attempts to register the union because it "opposed the fundamental rights of our country and of our constitution, which indicate the family based on matrimony as the natural foundation of our society."
During question time in Parliament on Tuesday, Franco Grillini, a deputy for the Democratic Left and the founder and honorary chairman of Arcigay, asked Justice Minister Roberto Castelli what measures he was planning to take against Gagliardi for his "offensive" remarks. Grillini, who was present at the Dutch wedding as friend and official photographer, said he presented a bill to Parliament that would allow people of the same sex to get married last September, but had little hope it would ever get voted on, launching a not-so-veiled barb at his own party.
"The point is, really, to build support in public opinion to then take up the battle," he said, adding that the influence exerted by the Vatican over Italian politics has made all questions related to the family dicey. "But today I think that consensus already exists." Garullo, 37, and Ottocento, 30, are unlikely civil rights champions.
Both men grew up in Latina, a town of 110,000 where they have a sculpting workshop. They didn’t have much to do with the local gay community and don’t consider themselves activists. But the Gay Pride parade in 2000, which brought tens of thousands to Rome, was the moment of awakening which gave them the strength to forge on with what promises to be a lengthy legal battle.
On Saturday, they will address this year’s national Gay Pride parade in Padua. When they decided to marry, Ottocento went to the Hague and rented an apartment for a few months so he could establish residency. The rest was bureaucratic. They are going to go on their honeymoon in a few weeks, in an undisclosed, but sunny, location. "I married Mario because I love him and wanted to build a family," said Garullo.
"And that comes before any battle." All those involved with the case sense that it is going to be an uphill struggle. "After all, we’re talking about a country that doesn’t even have a law banning discrimination for reasons of sexual preference," said Baliello. "Even Romania doesn’t allow for discrimination against gays."
Homophobia alive and well in Italy
(Note: this report is an abridged replacement of a longer report posted by the Observer in June 2003. At the request of the author and the publisher that story was removed from this site. In the request, the author stated that two years after its publication the article continued to be a source of conflict and alienation for the individuals named in the report. Clearly, homophobia is alive and well in Italy in 2005.)
By Richard Ammon, GlobalGayz.com
Despite the highly controversial and enormous public display of gay pride in 2000 during WorldPride Rome 2000, the majority of Italian gays and lesbians remain shuttered behind discretion and privacy when it comes to their sexual orientation. Most gays in Italy are not ‘out, proud and gay’.
One news report in 2003 quoted the then president of Arcigay, Franco Grillini as saying, “The problem is when you live in the Vatican’s back garden, you can’t change anything fast.” Grillini is one of the country’s four openly gay left-wing members of parliament.
The recent passage from one pope to another is not likely to change the Vatican’s staunch anti-gay rhetoric or policies. Indeed the current pope was one of the authors of the Vatican’s strong position that labeled homosexuality as an “intrinsic moral evil.” However, despite such vehemence the new pope recently (May 2005) greeted the newly elected governor of Puglia, Nicchi Vendola, who describes himself as gay, Catholic and communist and cohabits with his gay partner. (See report #12 below.)
In many towns and cities in Italy June gay Pride parades are the daring frontline presence for LGBT presence. Often gay and lesbian participants travel to other cities to march thus minimizing their exposure at home and safely away from the Vatican’s scorn. Some travel nearly the entire length of the country to support local celebrants.
Many homosexual individuals claim that discrimination in their workplace is common. Additionally, gays face condemnation from the right-wing National Alliance party whose members have circulated leaflets brandishing slogans like ‘behind every homosexual is a hidden pedophile’ at various gay Pride festivals, especially in the conservative southern areas like Mezzogiorno and the city of Bari.
Although only about 100,000 gay and lesbian Italians are willing to be open, there remains an estimated four to five million LGBT citizens throughout the country.
But inevitably and slowly attitudes shift over time, as they have in many modern European Union countries. Some polls indicate that almost 50 per cent of Italians, especially among the younger generations, now see same-sex attraction as an ‘alternative form of love’.
But still for most LGBT folks, the stigma of homosexuality—and the family dishonor it carries–is powerful enough to keep them closeted for life behind the appearance of the married-with-kids façade.
Few Italian cities still have openly gay neighborhoods and it’s not uncommon for hidden gays to post headless photos on websites using fake names as they cruise the Net for hook-ups or partners.
Some progressive local governments have encouraged the creation of official gay areas with little success because of social pressure that urges gays to remain underground. On the other hand, in the huge metropolis of Rome where Italian life is most diverse the authorities have tried to dissuade gays away from popular cruising grounds such as Capitoline Hill that overlooks the old Roman Forum. (The irony of the place is hardly lost given the liberal ancient Roman attitudes toward same-gender feelings.) The Hill is active day and night despite rude efforts such as erecting fences, installing lights and tearing up shrubbery.
‘People are still afraid as if we were in a police state,’ said Franco Grillini of Arcigay, but he insists such hostile attitudes only serve to motivate Arcigay to continue the struggle for gays right and public education about human sexuality.
July 12, 2003
Procreation for gay couples denied by Minors’ Rights Observatory
Naples, Italy (AGI) – The Observatory for the Rights of Minors intervened in the polemics about article 8 in the Statute for the Region of Campania which announced aid for adoptions and assisted procreation "without gender discrimination".
"There can be no institutional statute which contemplates laws against nature. The homosexual couple, from the natural point of view, isn’t in balance because ‘parents’ means a man and a woman", the Observatory said.
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario, Canada ( http://www.thestar.com/ ) http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Artic le_Type1&c=Article&cid=1076541906222&call_pageid=991479973472&col=9919291311 47
February 14, 2004
Roman gays hoping to score at mass kiss
Hundreds of gay men in Rome have angered city officials – and dismayed several high-profile residents of Vatican City, we assume – over plans to stage a Valentine’s Day world record attempt for the most people taking part in a mass kiss. The event is being organized by homosexual group Arcigay in an attempt to persuade the Italian parliament to pass laws giving homosexual and unmarried couples the same rights as married couples.
The kissing couples are calling for a "civil solidarity pact" in line with a French model, which allows couples to invest and own property together as well as inherit more easily. Also, Italians have a chance to break the Guinness World Record for "The Most People Kissing Simultaneously." Canada became the record holder in 2000 with 3,176 people. Then on Jan. 11 of this year Chileans broke the record with 8,890 people kissing at the same time. The move has been condemned by city officials who say the group smooch could bring city traffic to a standstill.
April 7, 2004
Gay couples in Tuscany celebrate recognition
Florence, Italy – The Statute Commission of the Regional Council of Tuscany has completed two articles regulating couples which have caused celebration in the gay and lesbian communities in the region. These articles concern the safeguarding of the family values based on marriage and the recognition of other forms of living together.
ArciGay Tuscany commended the statute as one worthy of being in Europe and said that their organization had made specific proposals during the preparation of the article. Today they express their complete satisfaction especially because of the ban on discrimination besides for the usual categories: gender, age, religion etc. also for ‘sexual tendencies’.
The note concluded: "Tuscany confirms yet again that it is a land of freedom. The organization "L’altro volto -Lucca Gay e Lesbica" also expressed satisfaction for the ban on discrimination for sexual tendencies and declared: "this puts our Region on the par with the rest of the EU which had banned discrimination against homosexuals and had recognized their rights many years ago".
‘The Most Famous gay scene in Italy’
At the top of Italian west coast, Versilia, in the Tuscany region, gives welcome to all the gay tourists from all the world.
Mama mia risto-disco-pub, Bocachica house music disco; Jungle Disco, Europa sea-food restaurant, B&B’s, hotels and many others wait for you in this summer-heaven, well known by Italians.
Relax under the sun with 2 kms of gay beach in the wonderful protected park of Lecciona, enjoy evening drinks, and later go to the
parties organized by locals.
So summer gay life works in Italy. Come to try this new experience at http://www.friendlyversilia.it and let your body
follow the instinct!
November 22, 2004
Italian region bans discrimination
Italy’s Tuscany region banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity Nov. 10. It is reportedly the first Italian region to do so. The measure was passed by the Tuscany Regional Council. The law "grant[s] to every person free expression and manifestation of the person’s sexual orientation and of the person’s gender identity."
It also gives same-sex couples rights in the area of health-care decisions, and promises to promote cultural events "open to all lifestyles." Violators will be fined up to 3,000 euros (US$3,900).
Alfred J. Cahak, Int. Press Office Le Village Milano – Gay Urban Lifestyle Festival Tel.: +43/699/11842825, Fax: +43/1/8176049 p.A. A-1120 Vienna, Vivenotgasse 47/21 eMail: email@example.com www.qtm-expo.com, www.arcoturismo.it www.pridemilano.org, www.arcigaymilano.org
Discover & Enjoy PrideMilano 2005-Politics, Travel Show, Film Festival, Music and Art
This year’s Italian Pride Nazionale takes place on June 4, 2005 in Milan, capital of Lombardy, where more than 150.000 gays, lesbians, bi- and transsexuals as well as their friends are expected to come together under the events motto "PACS! equal duties, equal rights". During this event, Italian politics and public will be visibly confronted with the topic of the "Patto Civile di Solidarietà" given that Italy is at the present time the European Union’s tail-light in the discussion around registered partnership, besides countries like Austria and a few of the new member countries of the former Eastern block.
PrideMilano 2005 – a statement against civil inequality
" After years of delaying tactics from the left-centred political parties and the ignorance of the right-wing parties it is time that politicians remember their election promises to the GLBT community and to ask them for clear word and deed!", according to the pride organisers of Arcobaleno, parent organization of Milans Arcigay activist group CIG.
The Italian GLBT community is tired of the play on words and constant interference of the Vatican as well as degrading statements from leading Italian politicians (e.g. Rocco Buttiglione) related to the current social politics and the missing of non-discriminatory partnership laws. Several years of polemic discussions about the ideal hosting place of the Pride Nazionale, Arcigay and Arcilesbica and the whole of their regional organisations have selected the city of Milan as a reference point for the biggest, most important and wealthiest GLBT community.
More than 150.000 participants and visitors are expected to the impressive parade in Milan downtown, a number that has not been witnessed after years of stagnation, neither in the 2004 pride in Grosseto, in rural Tuscany, nor in Bari in 2003. Because of Milan’s central location in the densely populated North, it is certain that a good part of the 5,7 million gays and lesbians in Italy won’t miss this occasion for direct participation in the parade.
Le Village Milano-Gay Urban Lifestyle Festival
During the celebrations around Pride Nazionale, for the first time, the so-called "Le Village – Gay Urban Lifestyle Festival" will take place from June 1 to 19, 2005 on three weekends every Thursday to Sunday. Approximately 100.000 visitors will be expected to the numerous concerts, discussions, exhibitions, art and cultural events and fashion shows. The "Piazza del Paese", so to speak the main square of the village called Italy, will be structured like the colors of the rainbow flag in six sections: Social Groups, Art & Exhibition, Experimental Fashion, Travel & Leisure, Socializing as well as Shows & Music. Concerts of the Italian bands Big, Meg, Rettore, Krisma and Marco Picardi, theater plays like Fortunate Is The Night and Come Tu Mi Vuoi as well as a Jazz Nite with the Joel Severini Band will emphazise contemporary Italian art. The national gay icon Rafaella Carra will most presumably open the Le Village with her greatest hits.
During the entire duration of Le Village, there will be the so-called Aperitivo Milanese with live music events and various disco nights with acknowledged top DJs from well-known gay-lesbian clubs. Idroscalo, the former airport for Zeppelins in the time between WWI and WWII, has been chosen as the event’s location, nowadays a spacious public park including an extensive lake with several beaches, located very close to Linate, one of Milan’s main airports.
Simultaneously the gay-lesbian travel workshop QueerTravelMart on.the.road will be held with participation from Vienna Tourist Board, VisitBritain, VisitLondon, Marketing Manchester, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Stockholm Tourist Board, City of Helsinki, Copenhagen & VisitDenmark, Fort Lauderdale, Hotel Axel Barcelona and the Gay Village Roma.The QTM on.the.road has gained a big popularity among gay and lesbian travellers as an informative and educative event and plenty of gay-friendly offers of hotels, airlines and destinations.
The Gay & Lesbian Film Festival will take place prior to the Pride Nazionale from May 26 to 31, 2005. Last year more than 14.000 gay-lesbian movie goers discovered and enjoyed the newest releases of Bruce La Bruce "The Rasperry Reich", Allan Brockas "Eating Out" or "Goldfish Memory" of Irish director Liz Gill. This festival with its numerous short films and new releases is meanwhile one of the biggest events of its kind in Italy. Queer Italia The gay-travel-info-platform ArcoTurismo offers best rates for flights and accommodation during all events around Pride Nazionale 2005 on their homepage.
Reservations can be made directly online with instant availability. More infos at www.arcoturismo.it. Discover & Enjoy! ANY FURTHER REFERENCE: Alfred J. Cahak, Int. Press Office Le Village Milano – Gay Urban Lifestyle Festival Tel.: +43/699/11842825, Fax: +43/1/8176049 p.A. A-1120 Vienna, Vivenotgasse 47/21 eMail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.qtm-expo.com, www.arcoturismo.it www.pridemilano.org, www.arcigaymilano.org
29 May 2005
New Pope meets gay governor on first road trip
by Peter Popham in Rome
Pope Benedict XVI has made his first trip outside Rome since his election six weeks ago, flying by helicopter to the south-eastern port city of Bari for the culmination of a Catholic conference where he called for Christian unity. The Bavarian pontiff who, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was known as Pope John Paul II’s "enforcer of the faith", took the opportunity of the trip to the province of Puglia to underline the commitment to bringing all followers of Christ together which has been a dominant theme of his papacy since his election last month. His message was given added significance by the fact that the recently elected governor of Puglia, Nicchi Vendola, describes himself as gay, Catholic and communist and cohabits with his gay partner.
In his sermon at an outdoor mass in the city, attended according to the Vatican by 200,000 people, the Pope said: "I want to repeat my willingness to assume, as a fundamental commitment, working to reconstitute the full and visible unity of all the followers of Christ, with all my energy … How can we communicate with the Lord if we don’t communicate among ourselves?" Bari is a city of high symbolism for Christian ecumenism, looking out to the Orthodox lands to the east and being the repository of the bones of St Nicholas of Myra, a 4th-century saint revered in both the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches. The Pope termed it "a land of encounter and dialogue with our Christian brothers to the east".
Under a broiling sun, Pope Benedict also took an outing through the cheering crowds in a boxy, bullet-proof Popemobile of the type made famous by his predecessor. The three-hour excursion was conducted under heavy security. The Pope flew to Bari by helicopter. All car traffic in the city was banned for the duration of the visit, hundreds of police patrolled the streets and a ship of the Italian navy was anchored offshore.
The retinue of senior members of the Italian government in attendance included the speakers of both houses of parliament, and Giuseppe Pisanu, Minister of the Interior.
The Pope was welcomed to the city by Mr Vendola, Bari’s most controversial new contribution to the Italian political landscape. As well as his outspoken views on homosexuality and communism, the new leader of Puglia is the first such eminence to sport an earring. Governor Vendola said that the pontiff’s visit to the capital of his province was "a cause of joy for me and for all the people of Puglia. We will welcome Benedict XVI with all the solemnity and joy that this important event merits".
But on the eve of the Pope’s visit, Mr Vendola had made clear his differences with the Pope’s hard-line views on homosexuality. In a newspaper interview, he said: "Recognition of civil unions does not represent any threat to the institution of marriage and the family. There is a reality of loving co-operation which asks to be granted the dimension of a citizen’s right."
As Cardinal Ratzinger, the Pope declared homosexuality to be "a more or less strong tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil", and worked hard to suppress Catholic gay organisations. This included prohibiting priests and nuns from doing pastoral work with gay men and lesbians.
June 6, 2005
Pope Says Gay Marriage is ‘Pseudo Matrimony’
by Malcolm Thornberry
Pope Benedict XVI has made his first public statement on same-sex marriage since his election – a stinging condemnation of gay and lesbian families. Repeatedly driving home his point that marriage can only be a union between man and woman, the Pope called same-sex unions "pseudo-matrimony".
He made the remarks in an address to a conference of the Diocese of Rome on the role of the family held at St. John Lateran basilica. "The various forms of the dissolution of matrimony today, like free unions, trial marriages and going up to pseudo-matrimonies by people of the same sex, are rather expressions of an anarchic freedom that wrongly passes for true freedom of man," he said.
Although was his first public comment on same-sex marriage since becoming Pope, Benedict has long history of attacking same-sex unions. As Cardinal Ratzinger he was the Vatican’s most outspoken opponent of gay marriage. Ratzinger was the author of the a 2003 Vatican directive to priests around the world calling for a proactive stand to stop governments from legalizing same-sex marriage and for a repeal of those those already on the books that give rights, including adoption, to gay couples.
The 12 page document called on Catholic bishops and lawmakers to oppose the legalization of same-sex unions.
Ratzinger opposes contraception and the use of condoms to combat HIV/AIDS. He advocates a diminished role for women in the Church and has called for mandatory celibacy for priests.
In 1999 he ordered two Americans, Sister Jeannine Gramick and Father Robert Nugent, to end their associated with New Ways Ministry which provides educational programs for gay and lesbian Catholics nationwide.
June 10, 2005
The Pope and Gay Marriage–Readers Reactions to Pope’s Criticism
Pope Benedict XVI recently spoke out against gay marriage, calling it a “trivialization of the human body.”
Germans criticized him for that and DW-WORLD readers seem split on the matter:
=I am a believer myself and no church is going to dictate to me that I must now suddenly be anything else but gay, because I was born that. I feel that anyone should have the right to be what they truly are and here in South Africa we at least have a constitution that guarantees that. Why can the world not allow consenting adults to live their lives the way they are — provided that it does not harm anyone and does not involve children? — Pieter Niemand, South Africa
=I totally agree with Pope Benedict XVI on gay marriage, and for that matter, Pope John Paul II, and every other pope since Peter. There is no moral or theological justification for the marriage of two people of the same sex. It is an anathema. Homosexuality is sin, just as fornication and other extra-marital sex is sinful. Marriage, by definition, is the joining of a male and a female. — Michael Murphy
=I believe that the Catholic Church is still in the middle ages. The world has changed and the church needs to change to align itself with what is going on in the world. I think gays should be allowed some sort of blessing/civil ceremony, if people’s reactions to a marriage are so strong. They should be allowed to adopt children. They just want what we all want, life, love and togetherness in trust and love. — Lee Ann G., US
=Any couple who want to marry should be allowed to marry, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, religious and spiritual beliefs/practices, culture, etc. — Nicole Raisin Stern, US
=I fully agree with the position of the Catholic Church in the question of gay marriage. However, I don’t agree with the position of the Catholic Church regarding homosexual orientation. The Catholic Church believes that homosexual orientation is not a sin, I believe that homosexual orientation is a sin. But I also believe that homosexuals deserve to be respected in their way of life — that is that they should not endure unjust discriminations, and I don’t believe that banning gay marriage is an unjust discrimination. — Esteban Rodriguez, Costa Rica
=The more I hear of this Pope, the more I am considering becoming a Catholic. — Chuck Reichert
=I definitely disagree with the pope’s views on same-sex marriages and homosexuality. The Pope should focus on the real problems in the world and the real problems in the Catholic Church. I feel like the church using homosexuals as a red herring to distract us from issues such as the child sexual abuse scandals in the United States. The Vatican immediately silences anyone who disagrees with the pope’s stance on homosexuality and other social issues. The Vatican should discuss homosexuality and same-sex marriages rather than silence and bully those who disagree with them. Also, if the Catholic Church truly believes that homosexuals should not be discriminated against, then maybe they should teach tolerance and stop trying to block the Brazilian UN resolution that is meant to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination. — Yasser Al-Saadi, Canada
=Pope Benedict is as wrong on this issue as his predecessors were in sanctioning slavery for a great many centuries. I am a Catholic but on this issue the Church needs to understand that the passages in Scriptures traditionally interpreted as condemning homosexuality are based on a pre-modern understanding of heterosexuality as the status of all people. — Thomas Murphy
=As a psychologist and philosopher, it is obvious for me that the right to marry will do a lot of good for many gay men and women, and therefore for the well being of modern societies. The words of Benedict show that no serious reflection has occurred among Vatican theologians, who have been repeating the same thing for decades. — Pierre Pelletier
=As a non-Catholic Christian I totally support the position of Pope Benedict on the issue of gay marriage. I do not care what non-Christian religions do, but acceptance of gay marriage in the Church is an intolerable evil. It is no less an evil than the acceptance of adultery, bestiality or any other sexual sin. God has set boundaries for us Christians and we have a responsibility to remain within those boundaries. This issue is absolutely not about mercy. — Charles Reichert, Canada
=I wrote a letter, in October 2000, to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then head of the Congregation of the Doctrine and Faith, previously named the Office of the Inquisition, showing that a careful reading of the Official Roman Catholic Catechism could support Gay and Lesbian Marriage. Section 2349 of the Catechism quotes St. Ambrose, the bishop that converted St. Augustine: "There are three forms of the virtue of chastity: the first is that of spouses, the second that of widows, and the third that of virgins. We do not praise any one of them to the exclusion of the others….This is what makes for the richness of the discipline of the Church." Infertile married couples are allowed "conjugal chastity" If the Roman church permitted Gay and Lesbian couples to marry, they would be under the same rule. — Lisa Rodke
http://www.dw-world.de © Deutsche Welle
22 June 2005
The Gay Village Rome is back–June 30 to August 31, 2005
After three lucky summers in the popular quarter of Testaccio, Roma, the event moves to Park San Sebastiano and throws its new slogan: "Follow your Nature". The chosen location satisfies the need to find a place where to be able to dance and to make music without disturbing the residents; the green of the Park will accommodate the top event of the Roman Summer, attended last year by more than 350,000 people from all the world. Organized by Dì Gay Project Onlus and Best Events One agency, with the support of the Council of Rome, the Gay Village will start June 30 to continue until August 31, with the usual tested formula and some interesting innovations.
Cinema, theatre, discotheque, sport, during different time shifts thought for people of various age and tastes. And, as usual, great attention to the social issue: between the initiatives, the distribution of informative material on the AIDS, condoms and the organization of corners with doctors and volunteers, the all in collaboration with NPS – Italian Network of Sieropositive Persons.
Among the innovations of the Gay Village 2005 the cycle of encounters "Rainbow Wave – from the Radio to the Gay Village" with reading of Matteo Bianchi, writer and journalist of Radio 2, with the literary kermess of Platinette from Radio Deejay and with Marco Baldini, the conductor with Fiorello of Viva Radio 2. Not to be missed an evening dedicated to love with lectures from San Francesco d’Assisi and Iacopone da Todi with the special participation of the famous Italian actor Paolo Villaggio.
Two reviews that recorded great success last year will come back: the "Mondays of the Theatre" presented by Pino Strabioli with the great interpreters of the Italian scene, and the Cinematographic Review (on 35mm) "Drive Out". Under the artistic direction of Pino Strabioli, Mondays will accommodate actors and musicians, between readings and shows. It will begin with the unusual pair composed by movie actor Claudio Santamaria and the Orchestrina of Leo Sanfelice (4 July), to continue with Leopoldo Mastelloni (11 July) in the show "Females". Paolo Villaggio in a Hymn to Love with readings from San Francesco d’Assisi and Iacopone da Todi (8 August), the pair Maria Amelia Monti and Ariella Reggio in "Good News" by Edoardo Erba (25 July), Piera Degli Esposti (1 August), and after the successes of 2004, the return of Lina Sastri (29 August) and Marina Confalone (18 July).
The fil rouge that will tie the evenings of the Gay Village is a homage to great women of the past and icons of the gay community. From Dalida interpreted by Maria Letizia Gorga, to Coco Chanel remembered in a recital from Cesare Belsito. From the pornstar Moana Pozzi, brought back to life in the pièce "Moana. The spot "Where the sea is deeper" by Letizia Letza to the voices of the best famous singers of the 70s and 80s, electronically remixed by the Turinese group "Coniglio Viola" in "Take back your square roots" First time in Rome (24 August), "Antigone" in the direction of Roberto Guicciardini and musics by Academy Award winner Nicola Piovani. A great show settled in one evocative and fascinating frame. The review "Drive Out" from August 8 to 20 will propose in this third edition a dozen of movies in preview, coming from all the world and representing with force the lesbian and gay image.
And finally music for dancing! Every evening from 11pm, two dancefloors will be animated by the Gay Village DJ’s. On Mondays house music with Soulful; on Tuesdays transgender music with the Drag Jay Vladimir Luxuria; on Wednesdays Disco Superbear; on Thursdays live from Radio Centro Suono Night; on Fridays – in the main dancefloor – house DJ’s coming from the top events of the European summer, while in the second dancefloor, the mythical Omogenic evenings. On weekends, Saturdays will dance to the tunes of the "Kindergarden" resident DJ’s and Sundays to "Venus&Friends". The Gay Village resident DJ’s are: Lusky, Paola Dee, MaxC, Valeria, Fabrizio Marini, Lorenzo Rossi, Francesco Assenza, Andrea G – Basc, Brezet, Gaia. Guest DJ’s will be: Lorenzo LSP from the Pervert Gold of Milan, Ricky, Locodice, Switch, Peace Division, Smokin’ Jo and Tim Sheridan in "Nasty Dirty Sex Music".
In the ArcoTurismo travel corner the very gay-friendly destinations Stockholm (July 9 to 15), the British Tourist Authority with London and Manchester (July 16 to 22), KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (July 23 to 29), Vienna (July 30 to August 5) and Copenhagen & Oresund (August 6 to 12) will present themselves with their offers to the expected 350.000 visitors of the Gay Village.
Tickets are: from Sunday to Thursday 6 Euro, Friday and Saturday 12
Euro. A seven days pass is available for 25 Euro.INTERNET INFOSwww.gayvillage.it
ANY FURTHER REFERENCE:Press Agency Carla Fabi e Barbara Ghinfanti
Tel.: +39/06/8742-0509, Fax: +39/06/8742-0388
Alfred J. Cahak – International Public Relations
Tel.: +43/699/1184-2825, Fax: +43/1/817-6049
June 22, 2005
Italian men in touch with their softer sides
New York – Italian men are nowhere near as macho and domineering as some old stereotypes might suggest, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Missouri. The study, which appears in an upcoming issue of Pyschology Of Men And Masculinity suggests that Italian men, while still endorsing the playboy stereotype, are substantially less homophobic and sexist than their American counterparts.
The study required 152 Italian males from universities in Rome and Palermo to fill in surveys that examined 11 "masculine traits": winning, risk-taking, emotional control, violence, power over women, dominance, self-reliance, playboy, primacy of work, disdain for homosexuality and pursuit of status.
The results were compared to another study in which 752 American men filled out a similar survey.
The researchers found that Italian men reported significantly lower adherence to nine of the 11 categories.
The only norm that Italian males endorsed significantly higher was the playboy norm which, according to the researchers, "supports the stereotype of the flirtatious and emotional Italian male vying for the attention of a woman".
Glenn Good, a professor of educational, school and counselling psychology who led the study, said he he was particularly surprised by the Italian males’ lesser endorsement of disdain for homosexuals and power over women.
The results, Good said, seemed counter-intuitive in light of Italy’s more hidden gay and lesbian community and its greater disparity between men and women in positions of power. " It may be that, in general, Italian males feel less threatened by the gay and lesbian community because this community is less visible than in the United States," Good said.
" And Italian males may not perceive themselves as having power over women because of the traditional power of women within the Italian family structure," he added.
June 24, 2005
Italian city workers take ‘gay rights’ classes
City employees in Rome are taking seminars to give them a better understanding of gays and the gay community.
Called a preventative measure against homophobia, participants in the six-session course are workers from the office for relations with the public (URP). The course is the brainchild of Mariella Gramaglia, city councilor responsible for communications and equal opportunities, who has over the years led a series of anti-discrimination measures in the Eternal City. Courses, led by a team of activists and academics, started June 15. Gramaglia hopes to export the program in the fall to another 19 towns in Italy.
" Rome isn’t just an city open to art, but it is a city with an open mind," she said. "We targeted people who are on the front lines for dealing with the public, it is a first for Italy."
Her words may have rattled the papal scepter just a few miles away in the Vatican. Recently-appointed Pope Benedict XVI is seen by many as a foe of gay rights, as a cardinal he once called homosexuality a "tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil."
The battle for separation between church and state in Italy is bound to be a long one. With the backing of the Pope, the church successfully mounted a boycott of the June referendum to ease Italy’s strict fertility laws.
July 10, 2005
Rome Gays Demand Marriage Rights
Rome – More than 50,000 people lined the streets of Rome’s historic city center for this weekend’s gay Pride celebration. Marchers called for equal rights for gay and lesbian couples, many of them carrying signs praising Spain for its decision to allow same-sex couples to marry.
Although Italy provides some rights to gay couples the provisions are considered sparse by European standards and do not include adoption. Italy’s right of center government has committed itself to maintaining the status quo and has been critical of Spain’s decision.
On June 30, Spain’s parliament passed legislation allowing gays to marry (story) over protests from the Vatican. Holland and Belgium also allow gays to marry. Most other European Union nations have varying forms of civil unions and domestic partner registries.
Several men in cassocks and women in nun’s habits marched in the parade but it was not clear if they were clergy or people dressed up as Roman Catholic priests and nuns. One float was dedicated to same-sex marriage and featured dancing drag queens in wedding dresses.
Not everyone on the sidelines was supportive, however, the night before signs were posted along the parade route that read "Peverse!" and "No Thanks!".
Midway through the parade the music blaring from sound trucks became silent and the march ground to a halt for a moment of silence dedicated to those who died in last week’s terrorist attack in London.
Rome officials had asked Pride organizers to call off the parade as a sign of respect over the terrorist attacks, but Arcigay, Italy’s leading LGBT civil rights group decided to go ahead with the parade but to include a memorial for the victims of the bombings. "We are here for freedom and against terrorism. Terrorism is the son of intolerance and discrimination," said spokesperson Fabrizio Marrazzo of the gay rights group Arcigay. Many of the marchers wore black armbands as a sign of mourning.
September 5, 2005
Italy’s Health Minister Slams Hospital For Refusing Gay Blood
by Malcolm Thornberry 365Gay.com European Bureau Chief
Rome – Italy’s health minister has ordered an inquiry into a Milan hospital that refused to allow a gay man to donate blood. Under Italian law gays cannot be turned away as blood donors.
Last week, Paolo Pedote, a 39-year-old writer, was told by the Policlinico Hospital that he was ineligible to donate blood after he informed a nurse that he is gay.
When he was told the hospital refused to accept blood from gays Pedote reminded the nurse that Italian law does not discriminate.
He was then informed that the decision was based on an "internal policy" not to accept gay male donors.
Health Minister Francesco Storace on Monday called the hospital’s position "very serious and unacceptable".
"We intend to determine the administrative responsibility," Storace said in announcing the inquiry. "But what has happened could also be grounds for a criminal investigation."
The hospital refuses to budge. Paolo Rebulla, the director of the Policlinico’s transfusion center, told the Corriere della Sera newspaper that he stands by the staff’s position.
Rebulla said told the paper that the hospital has "a fundamental duty to protect patients who receive blood".
Gays are currently banned from donating blood in the US, Canada, Australia and a number of other countries.
Last month an Australian gay man who was rejected as a blood donor filed a lawsuit against the Red Cross.
In the United States the Red Cross has been banned from holding blood donor clinics on several campuses because of the gay ban. In April, students at the University of New Hampshire held an information picket at a blood donor clinic.
© 365Gay.com 2005
September 18, 2005
Italy snaps over gay poster excess
by Barbara McMahon in Rome
Half-naked models are commonplace on Italy’s advertising hoardings but a kiss between two fully dressed men has caused a furore on the streets of its capital. Photographer Oliviero Toscani has ignited a furious debate over homosexuality with his latest adverts featuring two men kissing and groping on a sofa. The billboards have triggered outrage at a time when the rights of homosexual couples are being hotly debated in Catholic Italy.
Another shows the same model lying across the sofa and pulling his boyfriend on top of him for a kiss. ‘These posters are vulgar and a bad example for our children,’ said a spokesman for the parents association MOIGE, which wants the adverts banned. ‘It’s not a matter of sexual orientation. They would be crass even if they featured a man and a woman.’ Complaints have flooded in to the offices of Rome city council and an organisation called The Citizens Defence Movement has joined the chorus of criticism. ‘Obviously we respect homosexuality but it can be difficult to explain to young children,’ a spokesman said.
Toscani, who was behind the controversial Benetton clothing company adverts and whose career has been built on shock tactics, was typically unrepentant. The 63-year-old photographer admitted he had taken advantage of the current debate in Italy about the legal and civil rights of gay couples.
‘There’s a big discussion going on about homosexuality in Italy so I thought it was the right time to do something like this," he told The Observer. "I don’t think it’s vulgar. It’s just two men having fun together. These parents who are complaining – their kids already know about this stuff. The Vatican is not too happy with me either but the church is an anachronism in the world today. I don’t think it has any influence on young people.’
During his 18-year collaboration with Benetton, Toscani was accused of cynicism in using controversial images for commercial ends. They included a dying Aids activist, handicapped children, a man slain by the Mafia, and a nun kissing a priest. In 2000 he left the company after a campaign featuring death row inmates sparked a series of law suits.
Demands for the adverts to be withdrawn have had little success. A spokesman for Rome city council said it was not their job to decide what was morally acceptable in advertising.
November 29, 2005
Vatican says homosexual men not suitable for priesthood
by Cindy Wooden
Even if they have never had a gay sexual experience and are fully committed to celibacy, homosexual men are not suitable candidates for the priesthood, said a long article in the Vatican newspaper.
Titled "Reflections on the Document," the article was published Nov. 29 with the text of the Congregation for Catholic Education’s new instruction on accepting homosexuals as candidates for the priesthood.
The article — the only explanatory text the Vatican published with the document — was written by French Msgr. Tony Anatrella, a psychoanalyst and consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family.
"Candidates who have ‘deep-seated homosexual tendencies,’ that is, an exclusive attraction to persons of the same sex — independently of whether or not they have had erotic experiences — cannot be admitted to the seminary or to holy orders," he wrote in the newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.
Msgr. Anatrella said the Vatican felt it "necessary to recall once again that homosexuality always has been one of the difficulties that impedes access to holy orders."
In cultures where homosexuality increasingly is seen as a "normal quality" rather than as "a problem in the psychic organization" of a person’s sexuality, he said, the church’s teaching needed to be reaffirmed.
Homosexuals have a place in the church just like any other baptized person, Msgr. Anatrella said. They are to be welcomed, supported and helped "to live in fidelity to their baptism and to assume all the moral consequences of the Christian life, but they cannot be called to holy orders."
"Unfortunately, for many years in some countries a permissive attitude has allowed people to think that candidates (for the priesthood) who have this tendency could be ordained as long as they assumed perfect continence," or remained celibate, he said.
Problems and scandals have proven that a permissive attitude "lacked lucidity and wisdom," the monsignor said.
While "sexual transgressions" are a particular concern, he said, there are "collateral effects inherent" in accepting gay men into the seminary and ordaining them to the priesthood because of "typical behaviors and expressions on the part of these personalities."
He said they tend to have few friends, to close themselves off from others in "a clan of persons of the same type," to resent the claims on their time made by parishioners, to encourage other gay men to enter the priesthood and to deal with authority predominantly as a matter of "seduction and rejection."
At the same time, he said, the church affirms the validity of the ordination of its priests, including those who may have homosexual tendencies. While such priests may need special support, he said, the Catholic Church is committed to ensuring that they are not attacked and do not become the objects of gossip. "One vigorously must oppose denunciations and all forms of suspicion and innuendo which could attack the personal dignity of ordained ministers," he said.
Nevertheless, Msgr. Anatrella wrote, "One must free oneself from the idea that leads one to believe that, insofar as a homosexual person respects his commitment to continence lived in chastity, there will not be problems and he can therefore be ordained a priest."
A "commitment in holy orders presupposes that the candidate has attained a sufficient affective and sexual maturity coherent with his masculine sexual identity," the article said.
"He must, in principle, be suitable for marriage and able to exercise fatherhood over his children. And it is under those mature conditions that he renounces exercising them in order to give himself to God in the priesthood," the monsignor wrote.
Msgr. Anatrella repeatedly affirmed the need for a priest to be heterosexual in order to see himself and for others to see him as the "bridegroom of the church" and as a "spiritual father" to those to whom he is ministering.
"A homosexual person would have difficulty incarnating this symbolic reality of the spousal bond and spiritual paternity," he said.
Because the priest acts in the "person of Christ," Msgr. Anatrella said, the church calls only "men mature in their masculine identity" to the diaconate and priesthood.
"The church has the right to refuse holy orders to those who do not have the requested attitudes or who, in one way or another, are not in harmony with the teaching it has received from its divine master," he wrote.
"The church has the right to recall once again that the homosexual tendency is a counterindication to the call to holy orders," he said.
Msgr. Anatrella provided a long list of warning signs that should alert seminary rectors and staff members to the possibility that a seminarian is homosexual.
Among worrying signs, he listed: students who had trouble relating to their fathers; are uncomfortable with their own identity; tend to isolate themselves; have difficulty in discussing sexual questions; view pornography on the Internet; demonstrate a deep sense of guilt; or often see themselves as victims.
A man with homosexual tendencies, he said, "should not be accepted for formation or, if he was accepted before being aware of his situation, his formation must be interrupted."