11 January 2008 – The Independent
Hadrian the gay emperor :His attempt to fortify the Roman Empire is well known. But an exhibition focuses on another side of the man
by Arifa Akbar
The bust is classically Roman, the face imperious. But this is no ordinary emperor. As a major new exhibition at the British Museum makes clear, Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrianus was not only a peacemaker who pulled his soldiers out of modern-day Iraq. He was also the first leader of Rome to make it clear that he was gay.
Hadrian: Empire and Conflict will see the bust make pilgrimages to both ends of Hadrian’s Wall, the first time it has left the British Museum since being found in the Thames 200 years ago. But it is the singular life-story of the gay emperor that is likely to capture the interest of most visitors. After being made emperor AD117, he inherited a Roman Empire in its prime, which had thrived on a policy of endless expansion and conquest. His first move, within hours of coronation, was to withdraw his troops from Mesopotamia, now Iraq, and fortify the empire’s boundaries by building his eponymous wall in northern England and others in the Danube and the Rhine valleys, ushering in a new era of peace. The reign that followed can be traced through 200 ancient treasures, many of which have never been display in Britain.
Several of the artefacts relate to his male consort, Antinous, who accompanied him on his travels around the empire. These items include a poem written on papyrus, featuring the two men hunting together, and new finds that include memorials to the dead lover at Hadrian’s villa in Tivoli. Although it was not uncommon for his predecessors to have taken gay lovers alongside a female spouse, Hadrian was unique in making his love "official" in a way that no other emperor had before him. When Antinous drowned in mysterious circumstances, Hadrian was so distraught that he chose to commemorate the young Greek by naming an Egyptian city in his honour. Thorsten Opper, curator of the exhibition, said what was unusual in Hadrian’s attitude towards Antinous was the way in which he publicly deified him.
"He had to marry, and he had a politically arranged marriage to Sabina, who was the great-niece of the former emperor Trajan, which in effect, set up his succession. But clearly, it was a loveless marriage with no children. What was unusual is that he had a lot of flings, and then after his lover drowned in the Nile AD130 he made him a god. Hadrian was clearly bereaved and he had lots of images put up. When a city was founded close to the spot where Antinous drowned, he named it Antinopolis. It was a sort of hero cult-worship of Antinous," he said.
The emperor’s sexuality was by no means the only unusual aspect of his reign. The decision to pull his troops out of Mesopotamia might have been frowned upon in an empire that had built its might on a bellicose foreign policy, but Hadrian’s charisma won over the masses. Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, said: "The exhibition will provide an opportunity to assess the important legacy of the emperor Hadrian, a classical figure whose reign has telling relevance to our lives today."
Mr Opper said there were similarities between second-century Mesopotamia and present-day Iraq, with the Roman occupiers finding themselves in a hotbed of violence and resistance. "We must not mistake [Hadrian’s] motives for pulling his troops out of Mesopotamia," Mr Opper said. "He didn’t really have a choice. It had just been conquered by his predecessor and there was a lot of guerrilla warfare, which is eerily just like modern times. What he did was give the empire breathing space and while he was a very experienced military leader, we also get the impression he was very cultured and he fostered Greek identity and made them partners in leadership."
As the "people’s king" – he travelled with his troops and ate the same rations – he laid the foundations of the Byzantine Empire and changed the name of Judea to create Palestine, among other legacies. At times, however, even Hadrian’s Rome played the role of violent occupier. During a suppression of a Jewish rebellion in Judea, Roman warriors were dispatched to take control ofthe region, leading to the death of 580,000 Jews. "It was probably as a punishment that he changed the name of Judea to Palestine," said Mr Opper. The exhibition, which brings together loans from 31 countries, will display sculpture, bronzes and architectural fragments. Highlights include the Vindoanda tablets from Hadrian’s Wall and a bronze head of the emperor discovered in the Thames in 1834, which will travel to both ends of Hadrian’s Wall. The head comes from a statue that may have been erected in a public space in London AD122 to commemorate Hadrian’s visit to Britain.
Other highlights are a bronze bust from Israel found in 1975, a papyrus fragment of Hadrian’s autobiography from the Bodleian Library that has never before been on public display, fragments from Hadrian’s tomb and gilded bronze peacocks measuring two metres lent by the Vatican’s Museum for the first time.
The show runs from 24 July until 26 October
29th February 2008 – PinkNews
Gay film festival to showcase Japanese queer cinema
by PinkNews.co.uk staff writer
Now in its 23rd year, the Torino GLBT Film Festival or "Da Sodoma a Hollywood" will be held from 17th to 25th April 2008. Organisers said it will be the third Turin festival jointly organised and administered with Italy’s National Museum of Cinema. "23 years of exploration and construction of queer imagination," they said in a press release. "With a sharp discerning eye for perceiving new developments, the festival has gone from strength to strength, becoming one of the major drivers of dialogue between the GLBT community and the public. Moreover, it has introduced Italian audiences to the works of established directors such as Francois Ozon, Gus Van Sant, Derek Jarman and Todd Haynes."
Last year more than 25,000 people from all over the world attended.
Along with the competition sections for full-length features, shorts and documentaries, this year there will be a retrospective on Japanese queer films from the 1960s to the present. Sebastien Lifshitz and Stanley Kwan be present at the festival and honoured with retrospective tributes.
Other highlights include:
* Divine, camp icon par excellence, who died in 1988 at age 43, will be remembered on the 20th anniversary of his death with an image-gift by Francesco Vezzoli and with a screening of Paul Bartel’s Lust in the Dust (1985), where Divine teamed up with Tab Hunter in a triumph of kitsch.
* Jodie: An Icon
A special evening will be dedicated to Jodie Foster, a talented actress, now out as a lesbian icon. Pratibha Parmar’s documentary Jodie: An Icon explains how she managed this in over 30 years of screen acting.
*Retrospective: j-ender: big bang love in Japan
An exciting journey into the empire of senses and signs. In collaboration with NEO(N)EIGA, the Festival will present the first European retrospective of Japanese queer films from the 1960s to the present.
The retrospective will cross borders of gender and genre as it explores the Land of the Rising Sun. The cinema offers unique perspectives for us as distant observers of a country and a culture whose complexity is revealed in the endless paradigms of self-portrayal.
April 18, 2008 – 365gay.com
Mob Ransacks Rome Gay Center
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
(Rome) Rome police are searching for members of a mob of youths who burst into the city’s LGBT center, ransacking the building. The attack on Mario Mieli Homosexual Cultural Circle occurred Thursday night while members were in the building. As they attempted to confront the gang the youths yelled anti-gay and anti-Semitic slogans. As they ran off the gang yelled praises for Benito Mussolini, Italy’s wartime dictator.
"We fear that this situation is linked to the electoral climate," the association said in a statement.
Rome is in the midst of a mayoral runoff between rightist and leftist candidates. Earlier this week Silvio Berlusconi became Prime Minister when his rightwing coalition swept national elections. In 2004, during his last stint as Prime Minister Berlusconi’s handpicked man to be the European Union’s human rights chief was rejected by an EU committee after Rocco Buttiglione called homosexuality "a sin" and that marriage existed “to allow women to have children and to have the protection of a male.”
Reacting to the EU move, a Berlusconi cabinet minister launched into a homophobic tirade. "Poor Europe: the faggots are in the majority," Mirko Tremaglia declared. Fascist and Nazi youth have stepped up their visibility since the election. In the north of Italy this week police broke up what is described as a neo-Nazi gang arresting 16 people on charges of inciting discrimination, hatred and violence based on race, ethnicity and nationality.
Police said the gang had ties to skinhead and Neo-Nazi groups in Austria, Switzerland and Germany.
18 April 2008 – euobserver.com
MEPs call for ‘quality’ EU commissioner from Italy
by Honor Mahony
Euobserver / Brussels – Members of the European parliament’s civil liberties committee have indicated they are preparing a tough hearing for the new Italian EU commissioner, and have so far offered only a lukewarm reaction to the names currently being touted for the heavy-weight justice and home affairs post. Liberal Dutch MEP Sophia in ‘t Veld said the committee is looking for someone to "seriously drive forward the human rights agenda."
In a critique of Franco Frattini – the out-going commissioner now expected to become Italy’s new foreign minister following the recent elections – she said the new appointee should be "much more sensitive to issues of civil liberties and privacy." UK Liberal MEP Sarah Ludford said the issue was not a question of "political complexion … It is about qualities and suitability." She described the portfolio, which has seen Mr Frattini deal with a wide range of anti-terror legislation – often putting him in direct conflict with MEPs, as a "very, very challenging area."
Her committee faces a "constant stream of legislation that challenges civil rights," she noted. The civil liberties committee is the same committee that in 2004 caused the upset in the power balance between member states and MEPs after its hearing exposed the discriminatory views of Rocco Buttiglione, Italy’s original nominee, towards gays and women. Italy eventually substituted Mr Buttiglione with Mr Frattini. Ms in ‘t Veld noted that the same issues over which Mr Buttiglione "stumbled" will make an appearance this time round.
MEPs do not have the power to veto a single commissioner, but a negative vote from the EU assembly would be very difficult for EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso to dismiss. He initially ignored the rumblings of the parliament in 2004, hoping to hustle through the process with Mr Buttiglione on board the team, but was eventually forced into a humiliating retreat. However, the names currently having been floated as possible contenders – the centre-right MEPs Mario Mauro and Antonio Tajani, both from the newly re-elected Silvio Berlusconi’s former party, Forza Italia – did not gather much enthusiasm from the two Liberal politicians.
Ms Ludford took the trouble to point out that Mr Tajani has not been in charge of a particular dossier (report) at the parliament for "the 14 years he’s been here" but both she and Ms int ‘Veld stressed they did not know either politician very well. The civil liberties committee will hold a hearing for the new commissioner before the plenary as a whole takes a vote on the nomination. Among the questions likely to come up are the commissioner’s views on the rights of homosexuals, the role of women in society, the protection of civil rights in the era of the "War on Terror". There could also be queries arising from Mr Berlusconi’s regular controversial off-the-cuff statements, such as his recent comment suggesting camps for jobless foreigners be set up.
May 16, 2008 – PinkNews
New Mayor calls Pride a "sexual exhibition"
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
A former fascist elected to lead one of Europe’s biggest cities has spoken out against the gay community. Gianni Alemanno defeated his opponents to take control of Rome on April 28th. He is the first right-wing Mayor of the city in 15 years. Last week he set his sights on Pride, but claimed he was acting in the interests of public decency and not in opposition to gay people. "I respect homosexuals, I know some," he said. "But I fear that the Gay Pride or anything else, an act of sexual exhibition, and I am opposed to any form of exhibition, homosexual or heterosexual."
Fabrizio Marrazzo, head of Italy’s gay rights group Arcigay, said: "Pride is not an exhibition of sexual orientation, but a moment of reflection for gays, lesbians, and the transgendered." Fomer leftist MP Franco Grillini commented: "We knew that the Italian right, the worst in Europe, disliked this event. To the right, the acceptable gay is the one who lies (about who he is) and claims no rights." Mayor Alemanno said that the city would work out a "formula" for events such as Pride to make sure the event does not offend Romans. Conservative media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi won the Italian general election last month and began his third term as Prime Minister after beating socialist Walter Veltroni.
Mayor Alemanno was elected under the banner of Berlusconi’s People of Liberty party. With Mr Berlusconi and his allies back in office the modest gay rights agenda is likely to be abandoned completely. He has already been one of Italy’s longest-serving post-war Prime Ministers, from 2001 to 2006 and also briefly from April 1994 to January 1995.
Italy remains divided over the extent that gay and unmarried couples should benefit from the legal rights that married heterosexual couples enjoy. Last year’s proposed legislation to allow unmarried couples of any sexual orientation to formally register with their local authority and receive legal rights in areas such as property, inheritance and employment was attacked by Mr Berlusconi. "It creates exactly what we didn’t want, a sort of ‘second division’ marriage which devalues the meaning of family," he said.
May 19, 2008 – The International Herald Tribune
Italian equal opportunities minister rejects ‘gay pride’ march
Rome(Reuters) – Italy’s new minister for equal opportunities has angered rights groups by refusing to back a "gay pride" march because, she said, gays no longer suffer discrimination in Italy. The appointment of Mara Carfagna, a 32-year-old former Miss Italy contestant and television showgirl, to the equal opportunities post was seen by some rights groups as a deliberate provocation by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Carfagna said in comments published Monday that she would not back the June gay pride event in Bologna because "gay prides are pointless." "Homosexuality is no longer a problem, at least not the way the organizers of these demonstrations would have us believe," Carfagna said. "Gay pride’s only aim is official recognition for homosexual couples, on the same level with marriage. I cannot agree to that."
"Gone are the times when homosexuals were declared mentally ill," Carfagna told Corriere della Sera. "Today there is such a thing as integration into society." She said she would sponsor seminars dealing with "discrimination and violence" against gay people. The rights group Arcigay asked how she could say gay people suffer no discrimination in a country where they "are forced to hide their sexual orientation at home, at school and at work." The head of Arcigay, Aurelio Mancuso, said Carfagna lived in "a fairy-tale land." He said 14 gays or lesbians had been murdered in Italy in the past two years, 50 had suffered serious attacks and thousands had been discriminated against.
The center-left government that collapsed in January failed to win legal status for same-sex unions because of opposition from Roman Catholic politicians. Italy is in a dwindling group of European Union countries that have not recognized gay marriage or civil unions. The center-left opposition’s shadow minister for youth, Pina Picierno, said Carfagna was being manipulated in the battle between Catholics and secularists over gay marriage. The Communist politician Manuela Palermi put Carfagna’s lack of backing for the march in the context of the new government’s tough line on immigrants and social issues.
"Immigrants hunted down, Roma camps set on fire, a boy in Verona killed by neo-Nazis, women attacked on abortion," she said. "A racist country turning more and more Taliban, incapable of secular thought: That’s the image Italy is projecting."
June 7, 2008 – Reuters
Italy gay pride march protests against government and Church
by Philip Pullella,
Rome (Reuters) – Some 10,000 dancing and singing homosexuals and gay-rights supporters marched through Rome on Saturday, many of them chanting slogans against the Vatican and Italy’s conservative new government. The yearly Gay Pride march took on added political significance because city officials denied a request for the march to end with a rally near the Basilica of St John’s in Lateran, the pope’s cathedral in his capacity as bishop of Rome. City officials said the march would disturb a concert that had been planned for inside the basilica. The new conservative city administration also refused to give its patronage to the march.
"The denial of St John’s Square and the patronage of this demonstration were grave decisions that were steps backwards," said Vittoria Franco, equal opportunities minister in the leftist shadow government. The new conservative government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has made it clear it has no intention of passing legislation that would give gay couples some sort of legal recognition. That promise had been made by the previous centre-left government of Prime Minister Romano Prodi but was blocked by opposition from the Vatican and the Italian Catholic Church.
Berlusconi and the Vatican see eye-to-eye on many issues and his government’s relationship with Church is much more cordial than that of the previous government. "Berlusconi kisses the pope’s slipper and says ‘yes’ to everything. We risk a theocracy and clerical dictatorship," said Franco Grillini, a homosexual who was a parliamentarian in the previous government. Mock marriages were performed on some of the floats drawn through the city as scantily clad homosexual men danced on other floats. Some of the demonstrators carried placards accusing conservative politicians of being "hypocritical slaves" of the Vatican. Several of the gay men were dressed in papal masks or bishops’ garb.
(Editing by Mary Gabriel)
June 9, 2008 – PinkNews
Rome Pride parade targets Berlusconi and Benedict
by Tony Grew
Italy’s LGBT population demonstrated their displeasure at the Vatican and their government on Saturday with a colourful march through the streets of Rome. The event attracted controversy after it was denied permission by city authorities to congregate near the Basilica of St John’s in Lateran. They claimed it would disrupt a concert scheduled to take place in the Basilica. More than 10,000 people took to the streets for the Pride parade, some wearing clerical robes. The recently-elected Pope-friendly government of Silvio Berlusconi was also a target for ridicule and protest. "Berlusconi kisses the pope’s slipper and says ‘yes’ to everything," Franco Grillini, a gay former MP, told Reuters. "We risk a theocracy and clerical dictatorship."
Last month Gianni Alemanno, the first right-wing Mayor of Rome in 15 years, attacked Pride. "I fear that the Gay Pride or anything else, an act of sexual exhibition, and I am opposed to any form of exhibition, homosexual or heterosexual," he said. His remarks are indicative of a hardening of rhetoric about gay rights. Silvio Berlusconi’s appointeee as Italy’s minister for equal opportunities also attacked gay Pride events.
Mara Carfagna, a 32-year-old former Miss Italy contestant who worked as a TV ‘showgirl’ in Mr Berlusconi’s TV empire, claimed in an interview that gay people in Italy do face discrimination in marriage, but she would never support equality. "Homosexuality is no longer a problem, at least not the way the organisers of these demonstrations would have us believe," she told newspaper Corriere della Sera. Gay Pride’s only aim is official recognition for homosexual couples, on the same level with marriage. I cannot agree to that. Gone are the times when homosexuals were declared mentally ill. Today there is such a thing as integration into society."
Conservative media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi won the Italian general election in March and began his third term as Prime Minister after beating socialist Walter Veltroni. Former Prime Minister Romano Prodi’s commitment to increased gay rights caused tension in the previous administration, which ranged from Communists to Roman Catholic parties. It lost the support of parliament in January after the nine-party coalition government he was leading fell apart.
Proposals from ministers to bring forward a draft bill that would grant any unwed couple, gay or straight, the right to register themselves as a family stalled. The proposed new law would also have granted some pension and health insurance rights, but falls far short of the civil partnerships gay and lesbians in the UK enjoy. Italy is perhaps the only country in Europe where the Roman Catholic Church retains such strong influence over politics. Church-state relations remain frosty following Pope Benedict XVI’s repeated attacks on the proposed legislation to recognise gay couples.
With Mr Berlusconi and his allies back in office the modest gay rights agenda has been abandoned completely. He has already been one of Italy’s longest-serving post-war Prime Ministers, from 2001 to 2006 and also briefly from April 1994 to January 1995. Italy remains divided over the extent that gay and unmarried couples should benefit from the legal rights that married heterosexual couples enjoy. Last year’s proposed legislation to allow unmarried couples of any sexual orientation to formally register with their local authority and receive legal rights in areas such as property, inheritance and employment was attacked by Mr Berlusconi. "It creates exactly what we didn’t want, a sort of ‘second division’ marriage which devalues the meaning of family," he said.
August 29, 2008 – PinkNews
Gay activist appointed Honorary Consul to Wales
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
San Marino has become the 31st country to establish a diplomatic mission in Wales with the appointment of Federico Podeschi as Honorary Consul. Mr Podeschi recently launched the LGBT Excellence Centre Wales and is president of LGBT San Marino.
"I am honoured to have been appointed as a representative of my country to raise awareness about a Republic of which I am a very proud citizen, and to have the opportunity to bring together the two countries that I love the most: San Marino and Wales," he said. "Closer economic and academic co-operation between San Marino and Wales, both being amongst the smallest countries in Europe, will be mutually beneficial, enhance our competitiveness, and put both countries at the forefront of collaborative leadership.”
Swansea-based Mr Podeschi will take his oath in front of Capitani Reggenti, co-heads of the Republic of San Marino, on September 4. He went to university in Wales and has lived there for the last 11 years. San Marino is a microstate landlocked by Italy. While not a member of the EU it uses the Euro as its currency. It claims to be the oldest constitutional republic in the world. It was founded on 3 September 301. San Marino has the smallest population of all the members of the Council of Europe, less than 30,000.
The Right Honourable Rhodri Morgan AM, First Minister for Wales, said: "I welcome Mr Podeschi’s appointment and I look forward to a warm and lasting relationship between Wales and San Marino."
The LGBT Excellence Centre Wales was founded by Mr Podeschi in 2007, a social enterprise model for delivering equality and human rights in Wales for people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. He has delivered diversity training for large organisations and has recently developed a programme tackling homophobic bullying in Welsh schools.
September 7, 2008 – The Observer
Italy’s gay policemen join forces to come out
by Tom Kington in Rome
In a country where masculine values hold sway, gay recruits to Italy’s police and armed forces have avoided going public about their sexuality for fear of suffering ostracism and forced transfers. That is until last week, when a group of openly gay men in uniform announced they were planning to set up an organisation to combat discrimination and that they were plotting a collective coming-out event to show Italy’s police chiefs and army generals that they are a force to be reckoned with.
The movement immediately found a natural front man in Fabrizio Caiazza, after it emerged the Milan traffic policeman is facing sanctions from superiors after winning a gay beauty contest. Caiazza, 33, entered the ‘Sex Factor’ contest organised by UK website Gaydarnation.com earlier this year, donning his police uniform to pose for online shots in the Mr Uniform category. Beating 46,000 contenders from 162 countries, he scooped a modelling contract and a €15,000 top prize, only to be sent before a disciplinary board back in Milan for wearing his uniform without permission outside office hours.
‘I know I should have asked, but it would have been a complicated request,’ said Caiazza. ‘This will likely finish with a simple reprimand and is all about the longstanding rules, not discrimination,’ said Milan’s deputy mayor, Riccardo De Corato. ‘I know of no cases of discrimination occurring in the Italian police,’ he added. That did not square with Caiazza. ‘Many policemen don’t come out because of the enmity they would face from colleagues and the isolation they would be put in by superiors,’ he said.
Caiazza said he was backing the new gay rights group announced last week, dubbed Polis Aperta, which plans its first meeting on 26 September. ‘We’re coming out against creeping discrimination,’ said Nicola Cicchitti, an officer in Italy’s tax police who is heading the initiative, which now numbers about 200 members and plans to demand official recognition from Italy’s Ministry of Defence. The new group will put Italy on a par with other European countries, particularly Spain, where organisation Gaylespol hosted a conference of 14 associations for gays in uniform this year.
‘This will move Italy closer to the rest of Europe and break with absurd and still pervasive macho taboos,’ said the Mario Mieli Association, an Italian gay rights group. Vito Raimondi, a tax policeman from Turin, said the group would combat the isolation felt by uniformed gays afraid to come out. ‘I was at a Gay Pride event when a colleague, who had been standing on the fringes, saw me by the stage and decided to come over to greet me. It was a great moment and the proof we must be more visible,’ he said. A member of the Carabinieri paramilitary police involved in Polis Aperta said that its website has received hundreds of emails of support.
Writing in a blog for Italy’s Clubbing magazine, Caiazza has meanwhile pushed the idea of police forces using gay officers to investigate crimes involving the gay community, including gay hate crimes, which rights groups say are on the increase in Italy. The idea won the backing of Vladimir Luxuria, a transgender former member of the Italian parliament. ‘Sending gay officers to investigate hate crimes would help to encourage witnesses who might usually be afraid to talk to the police,’ said Luxuria, a man who lives as a woman.
‘It’s time to go beyond the stereotypical view that gays can only be make-up artists or hairdressers.’
October 2, 2008 – PinkNews
Vatican blocks appointment of gay diplomat
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
The next French envoy to the Holy See has been chosen after Roman Catholic officials rejected the first candidate because he is gay. AFP reports that another candidate was rejected because he is divorced. The rejected gay candidate, Jean-Loup Kuhn-Delforge, is in a civil pact with his partner and is a career diplomat.
The Pope visited France last month and was happy to be received by President Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni, who divorced his first wife to marry Ms Bruni. France’s ambassador to Moscow, Stanislas Lefebvre de Laboulaye, will take the Vatican post. The Holy See, which governs the Vatican City and represents the Roman Catholic Church, sends ambassadors to countries and international organisations such as the UN.
Nations have sent ambassadors or envoys to the See since medieval times. The Roman Catholic Church is opposed to gay rights and any attempts to protect or recognise gay relationships in law.
October 31, 2008 – PinkNews
Vatican approves new tests to weed out ‘gay’ priests
by Tony Grew
Men who aspire to the priesthood may face psychological tests to check whether they are homosexual. Despite the fact that Roman Catholic priests are celibate, the church under Pope Benedict XVI has become hostile to people with homosexual desires being ordained. The Vatican has approved psychological tests to weed out those with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" or "uncertain sexual identity" in a new document, Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood.
"In all too many cases psychological defects,sometimes of a pathological kind, reveal themselves only after ordination to the priesthood. Detecting defects earlier would help avoid many tragic experiences," according to the guidelines, which were issued by the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education. Those who today ask admittance to the seminary reflect in a more or less accentuated way the unease of an emerging mentality characterised by consumerism, instability in family and social relationships, moral relativism, erroneous visions of sexuality and a systematic negation of values, especially by the media."
The tests must be voluntary, but refusing to undergo one would likely bar you from the priesthood. In May a senior Vatican official wrote to every bishop of the Roman Catholic Church reiterating that the ban on gay men entering seminaries to train for the priesthood applies to all such institutions. Pope Benedict XVI approved the letter from the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
It confirms that candidates from the holy orders and missionary seminaries and "all houses of formation for the priesthood, including those under the "Dicasteries for Eastern Churches, for the Evangelisation of Peoples, and for the Institutes of Consecrated Life" are subject to the gay ban. The Cardinal said he was responding to various queries about the rules, which were set out under Benedict in the 2005 document Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocation with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders.
"The Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture’. Such persons, in fact, find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women. One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies. Candidates who show a homosexual tendency will not be allowed into the priesthood unless they can demonstrate that they have been able to remain chaste for at least three years."
The Vatican’s current stance on homosexuality dates back to 1961 where a ruling said that being gay was a "perverse inclination."
December 6, 2008 – google.com
Hundreds protest Vatican’s opposition to pro-gay UN text
Vatican City (AFP) — Some 250 people staged a sit-in by St Peter’s Square on Saturday to slam the Vatican for its opposition to a UN resolution that would decriminalise homosexuality worldwide. Under banners of the two main gay and lesbian advocacy groups Arcigay and Arcilesbica, many held candles and some wore nooses around their necks, dramatising the fact that homosexuality is punishable by death in nine countries. More than 80 countries have laws against homosexuality.
France launched an initiative in May for a UN resolution for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality, opposed by the Vatican because it might encourage gay marriage. Arcigay president Aurelio Mancuso slammed "the bad choice the Vatican has made as a state, not as a church." Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi argued that such a resolution "could clearly become a way to pressure or discriminate against those who … consider marriage between a man and a woman to be the basic and original form of social life."
He said, however, that the Roman Catholic Church opposed "all forms of violent or discriminatory penal law regarding homosexuals…. No-one obviously wants to defend the death penalty for homosexuals." The Vatican is a foremost campaigner against the death penalty.
December 9, 2008 – PinkNews
Gays protest outside the Vatican in support of UN declaration
by Tony Grew
Hundreds of people protested outside the Vatican City on Saturday in support of a declaration calling for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality to be presented at the UN next week. Some wore a noose around their neck, others held candles and displayed rainbow flags. They were protesting the Vatican’s hostile stance towards the declaration, which is being presented by France on behalf of the EU.
Monsignor Celestino Migliore, the Holy See’s permanent observer at the UN, said last week that the declaration could be used to force countries to recognise same-sex marriage. "If adopted, they would create new and implacable discriminations," he said. "For example, states which do not recognise same-sex unions as ‘matrimony’ will be pilloried and made an object of pressure."
More than 90 countries outlaw same-sex relations in all circumstances. The maximum punishments range from a few years jail to life imprisonment. In nine countries, or regions of countries, the mandatory punishment for homosexuality is death by execution. There is no mention of same-sex marriage in the UN declaration. Only a handful of countries recognise gay and lesbian marriages, among them Canada, Belgium and South Africa.
Aurelio Mancuso, national president of Italian gay rights group Arcigay, said the Vatican was wicked. "What happened today is extremely important," he said after the protest. "LGBT people have launched a global campaign in defence of life and dignity of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender citizens and the wickedness of Vatican politicians must not prevail over the human rights."
There were a series of other rallies across Italy – Acrigay said they hoped to start a constructive dialogue with the "community of believers who, as many polls confirm, disagree with the Holy See position." The French initiative is backed by all EU nations along with Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Ukraine, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Ukraine, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
In the Americas the most notable absence is the United States. Canada has signed up alongside Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay. Three African nations – Gabon, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau – are committed to the declaration alongside New Zealand, Israel, Armenia and Japan.
Louis Georges Tin, the founder of the Inernational Day Against Homophobia, is behind the universal decriminalisation declaration. He met with Rama Yade, France’s minister of human rights and foreign affairs, earlier this year. In September she confirmed that she will appeal at the United Nations for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality. Until the end of 2008 France will speak for all EU member states at the UN General Assembly, as they hold the rotating Presidency of the European Union.
The French initiative on decrminalisation will take the form of a solemn declaration from UN states, rather than a vote in the UN on the matter. France will submit a draft declaration at the UN General Assembly between December 15th and 20th. The British government already advocates universal decriminalisation. Australian gay rights activist Rodney Croome is claiming the Australian government "intends to support" the declaration.
June 15, 2009 – 365Gay.com
Gay pride activists march in Rome, Warsaw, Zagreb
by The Associated Press
Rome – Tens of thousands of gay rights activists demanding rights for same-sex couples marched through the streets of Rome on Saturday in a gay pride parade. Smaller marches wound through the capitals of heavily Catholic Poland and in Croatia, where counterdemonstrators shouted anti-gay and nationalist slogans.
In Rome, costumed demonstrators carrying rainbow flags and signs reading “freedom for all” attacked the conservative government of Premier Silvio Berlusconi. They demanded rights for same-sex couples and the recognition of gay marriage. Activists dressed as fake clergy with colorful hats and signs reading “No Vatican” protested what they say is the church’s excessive influence on Italy’s policies. Organizers said Saturday was not a special day for gay pride but that most such parades are organized around June 28, marking the 1969 landmark Stonewall riots in New York, considered the birth of the gay rights movement.
In Warsaw, hundreds of gay and lesbian activists marched, also calling for legal unions between same-sex couples. About 1,500 demonstrators marched along Warsaw’s main Marszalkowska Street under escort, police said. Several dozen right-wing youths shouting anti-gay invective confronted the parade near the Parliament building, but there were no confrontations, police said. Some previous gay demonstrations have been marked by violence.
Homosexuals were a taboo subject in Poland under communism. Since the 1990 democratic changes, gays have been campaigning for equal rights, but marriage in Poland is only legal between a man and a woman.
In Croatia, another mostly Roman Catholic country, about 500 gay activists marched through Zagreb. No violence was reported, but about 50 people held a counterdemonstration and shouted anti-gay slogans. One was led away by police after trying to break through a cordon that authorities had created around the Gay Pride parade to protect it.
July 17, 2009 – PinkNews
Vatican heaps praise on Oscar Wilde.. who it once condemned as immoral
by Jessica Geen
The Vatican has praised the work of bisexual playwright Oscar Wilde, despite previously regarding him as an immoral degenerate. The newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, which is seen as the official mouthpiece of Pope Benedict XVI, described him as "always looking for the beautiful and the good, but also for a God". Wilde, who served two years’ hard labour for "gross indecency", converted to Catholicism on his deathbed.
He was married with two children but was arrested in 1895 for his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas and subsequently jailed in Reading, where he wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol. The review added: "Wilde was a fortunate man, as more than 100 years after his death his works had not been forgotten and continue to fly off the shelves."
The turn-around has been met with surprise from Italian newspapers and commentators. In December last year, Pope Benedict XVI said the existence of gay people threatens humanity as much as the destruction of the rainforests does, and that "blurring" genders through acceptance of transgender people would kill off the human race. He also said man must be protected "from the destruction of himself" and urged respect for the "nature of the human being as man and woman."
"The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less," he said.
August 27, 2009 – PinkNews
Italian gays condemn football manager and call for hate crimes legislation
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
A leading gay rights group in Italy has condemned comments by the country’s football coach about homosexual players. Arcigay said that LGBT people "don’t want to be afraid anymore" after a series of attacks in Rome, including an arson attack on a gay club. The coach of the Italian national football team, Marcello Lippi, said in an interview released yesterday that in "the current climate" it would be impossible for two of his players to be in a gay relationship.
"Imagine how a homosexual couple in football would be perceived," he said. "Even if, socially, most people would support and understand such a situation, it would nonetheless become magnified and eventually would be viewed negatively."
In a statement on their website, Arcigay said: "In these days when gay people watch helpless and overwhelmed in episodes of brutal violence against them … we hear yet another hypocritical justification of that system of media, politics and culture, which lawful discrimination of our loves and remains unmoved to the culture of our retrograde and provincial media. Why, dear Lippi, the players could not live gay love openly, when performing in front of each camera their flirtation?
"Words like these fortify the prejudice that homosexual relationships are more dirty and unspeakable, uttered by a person who plays an educational role model for millions of Italian boys playing soccer and believe sport as a model of social and cultural life. We are tired of hearing politicians, singers, coaches feeding, even through the unsaid, a climate poisoned by distrust and fear. We do not want to have more fear and we hope for public figures who have the courage to affirm the dignity of each person to live in the sunlight, their relationships, their loves."
On Tuesday night nighclub Qube, home of the LGBT Muccassassina festival, was targeted by arsonists – it was empty at the time. A few days before a gay couple were assualted near Rome’s gay village. One was stabbed and he is in a serious condition. The city’s rightwing mayor, Gianni Alemanno, has backed Arcigay’s calls for anti-discrimination laws to help tackle homophobic violence.
September 3, 2009 – Monsters and Critics
Protests in Rome over attacks against homosexuals
Rome – Hundreds of people in Rome demonstrated on Thursday against intolerance and discrimination, in reaction to a series of assaults against homosexuals in the city, local media reported. Around 300 people assembled for a sit-down strike in the Via San Giovanni in Laterano. The street near the city’s famous Colosseum is considered Rome’s ‘Gay Street.’
The protest came after three assaults against homosexuals within several days in which unknown assailants on a motorcycle threw homemade firecrackers at a gay meeting place on Via San Giovanni. One man was injured in the assaults. Mayor Gianni Alemanno condemned the attacks and has arranged for an increase in police presence in the affected areas by October. Opposition politicians, however, say that the 2008 election of Alemanno, a member of the post-fascist National Alliance party, has made Rome an ‘open city for fascists.’
Two weeks ago in Rome, a gay couple was attacked at the entrance of a bar by a knife-wielding right-wing extremist. One of the victims remains hospitalized. Aurelio Mancuso, president of Arcigay, a gay federation, stated that homophobic acts across Italy are an daily occurrence.
September 14, 2009 – PinkNews
Man arrested for gay attack in Italy
by Jessica Geen
A 32-year-old has been arrested in connection with the beating of a young gay man in Florence last week. The 26-year-old victim has undergone surgery after being brutally attacked in a gay nightclub in the central Piazza Salvemini. He sustained fractures to his nose, cheeks and jaw and has had metal places and screws inserted into his facial bones. The suspect, thought to be a builder, was arrested by police at his home on the outskirts of Florence. A 33-year-old man has also been detained.
According to news agency AKI, the victim and his friends had met the suspects by chance and agreed to go to the gay bar together. It claimed the alleged attack took place after "misunderstandings" and "unwelcome advances". This is the latest attack on the gay person in the last few weeks in Italy. On September 1st, a couple of firecrackers were thrown at a bar on San Giovanni in Laterano, known as Gay Street.
Although initial reports said these were bombs, police have now said they were firecrackers. Witnesses said four men were seen running from the area. One man was taken to hospital with a minor injury and a scooter was damaged. The previous week, a lesbian woman was reported to have been threatened by a young man on the same street, while a gay male couple were attacked in a separate incident. One was stabbed and is in a serious condition.
In another incident, nightclub Qube, home of the LGBT Muccassassina festival, was targeted by arsonists but was empty at the time. Following the attacks, Italy’s largest gay rights organisation Arcigay, has called for more legal protections for LGBT people and is asking parliament to urgently expand existing laws. It is currently organising marches to protest for new rights. Italy’s hate crime laws do not mention homophobia, something LGBT groups have been campaigning over for years.
September 28, 2009 – PinkNews
Thousands protest in Rome against homophobic attacks
by Jessica Geen
An estimated 30,000 people turned out onto the streets of Rome last week to protest against a spate of homophobic attacks in Italy. Gay groups and politicians from all the main political parties joined the demonstration, held last Thursday. According to Associated Press, the city’s mayor, Gianni Alemanno marched with the crowds. The right-wing former neo-fascist helped hold a banner reading "Rome is against intolerance and all racism".
In the latest incident, a young gay man was brutally beaten in a gay nightclub in the central Piazza Salvemini. He has undergone reconstructive surgery to his face. One man has been arrested. On September 1st, a couple of firecrackers were thrown at a bar on San Giovanni in Laterano, known as Gay Street. Witnesses said four men were seen running from the area. One man was taken to hospital with a minor injury and a scooter was damaged.
The previous week, a lesbian woman was reported to have been threatened by a young man on the same street, while a gay male couple were attacked in a separate incident. One was stabbed and is in a serious condition. In another incident, nightclub Qube, home of the LGBT Muccassassina festival, was targeted by arsonists but was empty at the time. Following the attacks, Italy’s largest gay rights organisation Arcigay, has called for more legal protections for LGBT people and is asking parliament to urgently expand existing laws. Italy’s hate crime laws do not mention homophobia, something LGBT groups have been campaigning over for years.
October 22, 2009 – PinkNews
Rome holds flash mobs to call for legal protections for gays
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
A number of demonstrations were held in Rome, Italy, last weekend to call for more laws to protect gay people from hate crime. The protests came after the Italian parliament voted out a a bill of hate crime protections. Some MPs said it would violate the Italian constitution which requires equality for all, while others claimed that it would also offer protection to tendencies such as paedophilia, zoophilia, necrophilia and incest.
In the latest homophobic attack, a young gay man was beaten up in a gay nightclub in the central Piazza Salvemini. He has undergone reconstructive surgery to his face. One man has been arrested. On September 1st, a couple of firecrackers were thrown at a bar on San Giovanni in Laterano, known as Gay Street. One man was taken to hospital with a minor injury and a scooter was damaged. The previous week, a lesbian woman was reported to have been threatened by a young man on the same street, while a gay male couple were attacked in a separate incident.
A gay nightclub was also targeted by arsonists. Following the attacks, Italy’s largest gay rights organisation Arcigay, has called for more legal protections for LGBT people and is asking parliament to urgently expand existing laws. Italy’s hate crime laws do not mention homophobia, something LGBT groups have been campaigning over for years. The protests have been commended by the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA)
Secretary David Christmas said: "We congratulate the Italians on the stand they are taking against their government and parliament’s refusal to act to protect its gay and lesbian citizens. "The suggestion that the bill would give gay people ‘special rights’ is morally offensive, since gay victims of hate crime are already being singled out for ‘special treatment’ by their attackers. The objection is also intellectually fatuous as the law would also protect straight people targeted for their sexuality. The fact that there are few if any instances of people attacked for being heterosexual is hardly a criticism to be made against gay people."
"The key role of the Vatican in this, also confirms that voicing its disapproval against gay people is more important than physically protecting their lives. We call on the Italian government and parliament to reverse this shameful decision, and to respect the memory of some of the greatest people in history who have been gay Italians, from Leonardo da Vinci to Michelangelo."
"We also call on European institutions and other EU Governments to apply all possible pressure on Italy to grant full equality and protection to all of its citizens. And we call on the many decent Roman Catholics, both in Italy and elsewhere, to make clear to the Vatican that they do not support its continued vendetta against gay people."
Andrea Maccarrone, president of the Rome-based gay association Circolo Mario Mieli, said: "We welcome GALHA’s support in this vital struggle, which involves all European citizens, not just Italians."
December 2009 – Yahoo Groups
International Human Rights Day
On international human rights day several human rights organizations organized with other NGOs and a core group of states an event in the UN Building about sexual orientation and human rights violations. In a powerful statement that The Vatican delivered at this event, it mentioned amongst other things the Holy See opposes discriminatory penal legislation against homosexual persons and calls upon all States and individuals to respect the rights of all persons.
Thank you for convening this panel discussion and for providing the opportunity to hear some very serious concerns raised this afternoon. My comments are more in the form of a statement rather than a question.
As stated during the debate of the General Assembly last year, the Holy See continues to oppose all grave violations of human rights against homosexual persons, such as the use of the death penalty, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The Holy See also opposes all forms of violence and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons, including discriminatory penal legislation which undermines the inherent dignity of the human person.
As raised by some of the panelists today, the murder and abuse of homosexual persons are to be confronted on all levels, especially when such violence is perpetrated by the State. While the Holy See’s position on the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity remains well known, we continue to call on all States and individuals to respect the rights of all persons and to work to promote their inherent dignity and worth.
Thank you, Mr. Moderator.
December 15, 2009 – On Top Magazine
Pope Opposed To ‘Unjust Discrimination’ Against Gays
By On Top Magazine Staff
Pope Benedict says he is opposed to “unjust discrimination” against gay men and lesbians. In a statement read Thursday – Human Rights Day – at the United Nations, a representative of the Holy Father told a human rights panel that he was opposed to “violations of human rights against homosexual persons.”
“The Holy See continues to oppose all grave violations of human rights against homosexual persons, such as the use of the death penalty, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment,” Rev. Philip J. Bene, the Vatican’s legal attache to the United Nations, told the panel referring to the central government of the Roman Catholic Church in Rome, which is headed by the Pope.
“The Holy See also opposes all forms of violence and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons, including discriminatory penal legislation which undermines the inherent dignity of the human person.”
The Pope’s statement is worded to give him sufficient latitude to disagree on gay marriage, an issue he continues to rally against, especially in Spain, where Socialists legalized the institution in 2005. Last year, the Vatican was widely criticized for its opposition to a resolution calling for the universal decriminalization of being gay. It is illegal to be gay in more than 80 countries, according to the United Nations. Vatican officials said they could not support the resolution because removing such laws might lead to greater acceptance of gay marriage.
While condemning the killing of gay men and lesbians, the statement calls on governments to “respect the rights of all persons and to work to promote their inherent dignity and worth.” Adding that “the Holy See’s position on the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity remains well know.” The statement was widely seen as a denunciation of an anti-gay bill currently before the Uganda Parliament that includes a death penalty provision for “aggravated homosexuality,” a classification that includes HIV-positive gay persons and repeat offenders.