April 29, 2010 – UK Gay News
Film Documenting Homophobia in Italy Through Eyes of Gay Couple Set for London Screening
London – A film about how the lives of a gay couple in Italy changed when the Italian Government announced a draft law that would give rights to unmarried gay couples and the homophobia that followed, is to get its first-ever London screening ahead of its DVD release in June. The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) and the South Place Ethical Society (SPES) have announced an exclusive screening of the film Suddenly Last Winter on the evening of May 16 to mark the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO),
Present at the screening will be director Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi who will talk about their experience of making the film. Suddenly Last Winter is the story of Gustav and Lucca, whose lives change when the Italian Government presents a draft law that would give rights to unmarried gay couples, prompting a wave of homophobia in Italy.
When the Italian government of Prime Minister Romano Prodi was defeated in February 2007 in the upper chamber on a vote officially concerned with the renewal of the budget for the Italian mission in Afghanistan, it became clear that the real reason for this debacle was a missing vote of honorary Senator Giulio Andreotti. He is one of the most influential and closest ally to the Vatican in Parliament.
He would then admit on the following day that he could not sustain a government that tries to pass a law for gay and lesbian couples. “I was sitting on a ski lift when I heard about that news and that very moment I decided that something had to be done and that the best way about it would be to make a film,” Gustav Hofer says.
“It was very clear from the beginning that the story had to be told from a private point of you. So I convinced my boyfriend Luca to start making a film about us and about how we are affected by what was going on. So we started to leave our protected private world, armed with our little HDV camera, following the debate in the Senate, week by week and hopping from one demonstration for or against a law for civil unions to the other."
The Vatican and conservatives fight against the proposed law, preaching that the end of morality and the family are nigh if the legislation on civil unions is not blocked. Together for over eight years, the film shows Luca and Gustav trying to understand the different positions and undertaking a journey into a country they did not know before and did not expect to find: “their own”.
The film is being shown on May 16 at the Conway Hall, London, before its official release in the UK and following several awards it has received around the world. “With the Pope set to visit the UK on an official visit in 2010, this moving and heart warming documentary is a timely reminder of the negative effects that religious influence in politics can have on people’s lives, and the homophobia and bigotry it helps spread,” commented Derek Lennard, the IDAHO UK co-ordinator.
Suddenly Last Winter is screened on Sunday May 16 at Conway Hall (main hall), 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, WC1 at 7pm. Admission is free and doors open at 6.30pm. No booking necessary, but you are advised to arrive early. The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia will be marked on May 17 in over 50 countries. Its theme this year is “Religions, Homophobia and Transphobia”.
8 June 2010 – Global Voices
Italy: “Every Kiss is a Revolution” as Gays Await Legal Rights
by Davide Galati
Violent assaults on homosexuals have occurred with frequency in Italy over the past year, but to the disappointment of many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activists, it does not seem to have increased the likelihood of anti-homophobia legislation being passed any time soon. Online, there is much discussion of the flimsy legal protections, and what can be done politically to create change. On the website Gay.Tv a special report [it] lists the numerous cases occurred during 2009 (note: all links are in Italian except where indicated). Already, the high numbers seem far from suggesting an improvement in 2010.
One victim of a homophobic assault was heavily injured in Rome on May 26. He was kicked and punched repeatedly and almost lost an eye. After the assault, the young man made an anonymous spoken appeal to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in the media as a reminder that Italy still lacks legislation against homophobia.
Center-left politician and blogger, Cristina Alicata, writes on his blog Non si possono fermare le nuvole (Nobody can stop the clouds):
Questi attacchi avvengono a ridosso dei luoghi più noti di aggregazione omosessuale, appena fuori, a dimostrazione che non serviranno telecamere, non serviranno gli stuart o i vigilantes invocati spesso da alcuni. (…) Dobbiamo prendere in mano questo problema e dimostrare la nostra capacità di elaborazione politica profonda, la nostra idea di città, la nostra idea di sicurezza, di integrazione, di rispetto delle diversità. Subito.
The attacks occur near the most popular homosexual gathering places, just outside them, which shows that the use of cameras will not be enough, nor the caretakers or ‘vigilantes’ called for by some. (…) We have to take up this issue and demonstrate our capacity for deep policy making, our idea of town, our idea of security, integration, respect for diversity. Now.
Legal setbacks in Italy
There have been several recent defeats in the legislative field. In October of last year, the House rejected a bill against homophobia. And this year, on March 23, an appeal for the extension of marriage rights to homosexual couples made by citizens and members of civil society was rejected by the Constitutional Court.
Tomblog, “the first Italian gayblog”, says:
Sono convinto di una cosa: che il nostro prestigioso Parlamento, prima di varare una qualsiasi legge contro l’omofobia, stia aspettando che ci scappi il morto. I am convinced of one thing: our prestigious Parliament, before embarking on any law against homophobia, will keep postponing until someone ends up dead.
The blog Queerblog reports on the results of the Rainbow Country Europe Index 2010 [en], a study released in May by the ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) that shows that Italy is among the countries with the worst record for homosexual legal rights in Europe. According to the Rainbow index, Sweden is the most gay-friendly country in Europe, with 10 points. Russia and Ukraine are the least gay-friendly with -2 points, while Italy is almost at the bottom with 1 point. Download the full document (PDF) [en].
July 23, 2010 – PinkNews
Video: Italian Catholic priests ‘filmed having casual sex at gay clubs’
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
Another gay scandal has hit the Catholic Church in Italy after three priests were allegedly filmed having casual sex and visiting gay nightclubs. Italian weekly news magazine Panorama said its undercover reporter filmed the three with the help of a gay accomplice. It said it would not name the priests but said in a preview of the article that the footage would be published. The magazine said: "By day they are regular priests, complete with dog collar, but, at night it’s off with the cassock as they take their place as perfectly integrated members of the Italian capital’s gay scene." It added that the reporter saw the priests taking part in gay events and one was even filmed wearing his cassock during sex.
The magazine quoted one priest as saying that "98 per cent" of the priests he knew were gay. The Roman Catholic Rome diocese said today that the article was designed to damage the church, but told priests not to live a "double life". Catholic priests are required to be celibate and homosexuality is strictly forbidden, as the church regards it as "intrinsically disordered". In March, it was claimed that a chorister had procured male prostitutes for a papal gentleman-in-waiting.
The chorister, 29-year-old Thomas Chinedu Ehiem, was sacked after police heard him talking on a wiretap to Angelo Balducci, a Gentleman of His Holiness.
Click to view a video clip from Panorama magazine (does NOT contain nudity or sexual scenes but caution is advised)
July 27, 2010 – LifeSiteNews
Vicar of Rome to Gay Priests: Come Out and Get Out
by Peter J. Smith
Rome,(LifeSiteNews.com) – With the Vatican reeling from another sex scandal, this time in the heart of the Eternal City, the Vicar of Rome is sending an unequivocal message to homosexual priests: come out of the closet, and get out of the priesthood. Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the prelate in charge of administering the Rome diocese, the episcopal see of Pope Benedict XVI, made the statements in response to an exposé by Panorama. In an undercover investigation the journal alleged that it had followed a handful of Catholic priests who were part of a gay-subculture: saying Mass by day, and frequenting gay bars by night.
"No one is forcing them to stay priests, only getting the benefits," said Vallini, who rebuked the priests for leading a "double life." "Coherence demands they should come out into the open," he added. "They never should have become priests." But Vallini also had choice words for Panorama, which belongs to the media empire of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, accusing the journal of sensationalism and “trying to defame all priests.”
He asserted that the "vast majority" of priests in the diocese of Rome "represent a model of morality for everyone." However, Panorama’s editor Giorgio Mule, disputed the notion that the journal was simply scandal-mongering or seeking to defame the Catholic Church. “This was a two week investigation and was not aimed at creating a scandal but showing that a certain section of the clergy behaves very differently,” Mule stated, according to the UK Daily Mail.
The Italian homosexual movement is not too happy with the Panorama exposé either. The revelations of priests engaging in casual anonymous sex on Rome’s gay scene tend to undermine the family-friendly portrait of homosexual relationships that the homosexualist movement has striven to implant in the public imagination for years. Aurelio Mancuso, the honorary president of Arcigay, a homosexualist lobby, denounced the Panorama article, accusing it of ignoring priests living as a couple in a committed loving relationship.
The Panorama investigation delved into the lives of three priests – two Italian, one French – who were filmed attending gay nightclubs in Rome and engaging in casual sexual activity. The report, described as “deeply disturbing” by Panorama, revealed that one of the priests, “Carlo,” was filmed praying Mass the day after one of his nighttime escapades. Carlo also alleged to Panorama’s undercover reporter that 98 percent of the priests of his acquaintance were fellow homosexuals. In 2005 the Vatican issued a document in which it made clear that individuals with “deep-seated” homosexual tendencies should not be admitted to the priesthood.
August 13, 2010 – PinkNews
Italy’s ‘summer of homophobia’
by Christopher Brocklebank
In Italy over the past month, a series of incidents in which gay people have been physically and verbally attacked has led to the country’s press referring to a "summer of homophobia". As reported in the Guardian, the attacks were all apparently prompted by the sight of gay couples kissing in public. In Ostia, near Rome, two men were forced to leave a beach after their fellow sunbathers became angered by the sight of them kissing each other on the lips.
In the popular gay summer resort of Torre del Largo, two men were fined for kissing in public, despite the fact that there are no laws in the country against doing so. At Pesaro, a resort on the Adriatic coast, a gay couple were bottled after they were seen kissing in the street. Franco Grillini MP, who is also the president of Italy’s premier gay rights organisation, Arcigay, said in dismay that "homophobia is racism, pure and simple, and as such should be punished".
Paola Concia, Italy’s first openly lesbian member of parliament, added: "Suddenly a kiss has become obscene and illegal simply because it has taken place between two people of the same sex". In response to the apparently growing public prejudice, Ms Concia, along with other gay activists, has organised a mass kiss-in at Torre del Lago, calling it "Many kisses against intolerance".
September 8, 2010 – PinkNews
Italian Protestants agree to same-sex blessings
by Stephen Gray
The joint synod of two of Italy’s Protestant groups announced this week they would allow same-sex couples church blessings. After two days of debate at the headquarters of the Waldensians’ and Methodists’ governing body in northern Italy, the announcement was made that churches would be permitted to bless couples “where the local church has reached a mature consensus and is respectful of different positions." The synod statement said: "The words and practice of Jesus, as seen in the Gospel, call us to welcome each experience and each choice marked by God’s love, freely and consciously chosen.”
An opposing group of Waldensians which included a member of the Italian parliament, Lucio Malan, advertised in Riforma, a Protestant newspaper, warning that same-sex blessings risked a schism within the church. The group said that the 1655 Waldensian statement of faith described the Scriptures as the “rule of our faith and life." It further added that many Bible passages condemn homosexuality. Defending the decision, Waldensians said the references to homosexuality made in the Bible should be viewed alongside issues of culture and interpretation, to avoid the danger of fundamentalism.
Pastor Maria Bonafede, the moderator of the Tavola Valdese, the Waldensian executive board told Italian Protestant news agency NEV: “The issue is not that of welcoming homosexuals in our churches … The issue is the blessing of the union of persons who want to witness in front of God and in front of their community of faith their engagement in a journey of life together.
“We must understand what ‘blessing’ means in the Bible and in the Church. Obviously, it doesn’t mean marriage, which for us as Protestants is not a sacrament, but a civil matter.”
There are around 30,000 Waldensian and Methodist followers in Italy.
9 April 2011 – PinkNews
Academic who blamed fall of Roman Empire on gays under pressure to resign
by James Park
A leading but controversial Italian academic is facing calls for him to resign as vice president of the country’s Centre for National Research after he claimed that homosexuality caused the fall of the Roman Empire. Professor Roberto De Mattei, vice-president of Italy’s Centre for National Research, a devout Catholic who previously claimed that the Japanese earthquake and tsunami was “divine punishment”, made his claims in an interview for a religious radio station.
During his interview with Radio Maria, Professor De Mattei said:”The collapse of the Roman Empire and the arrival of the Barbarians was due to the spread of homosexuality. “The Roman colony of Carthage was a paradise for homosexuals … the abnormal presence of a few deviants infected many others.”
He says that his claims originate from he writings of fifth-century Christian author Salviano di Marsiglia. Professor De Mattei added: “The invasion of the Barbarians (of Rome] was seen as punishment for this moral transgression. It is well known that effeminate men and homosexuals have no place in the Kingdom of God. Homosexuality was not rife among the Barbarians, and this shows that God’s justice comes throughout history, not at the end of time.”
A left wing MP, Paola Concia, has written to the country’s education minister, Maria Stella Gelmini, to step in and intervene.” Emilio Gabba, an expert on ancient Roman history said: “It is highly improbable that homosexuality led to the fall of the Roman Empire.”
May 14, 2011 – TETU.com
(Translated from French)
In Italy, a Business License Suspended for Homosexuality
by Alistair Dupaquis
An Italian driver has been unpleasantly surprised to discover that his license had expired several years because he had revealed he was gay during a medical visit. And political associations on the frontline. Still reeling from the case Danilo Giuffrida, this young 26 year old Sicilian private license because he was gay (read our article), the Italian LGBT discover that this mishap is not unique. Another boy, from Brindisi in Puglia, has just learned that his license was suspended for several years because of his homosexuality.
It is making its first application for license renewal (required every ten years in Italy after checking the state of health) Cristian Friscina wipes the refusal of the administration. He then explains that his file mentions "conditions that could be detrimental to the safety of driving." Stitches in the young 33 year Apulien discovers the origin of this diagnosis: the Military Hospital of Bari, where he revealed his homosexuality in 2000, the military medical service. Immediately, the military services have warned Motorizzazione Civil Administration in charge of traffic. The notice states that this revelation "raises doubts about the continuity of mental and physical fitness required to possess a permit" and that it is suspended pending a visit-cons. Now, mysteriously and unlike the first case, the driver is not immediately notified. It will roll ten years without knowing that his license has expired, until its renewal.
"When I discovered what had happened, I was full of anger and dejection. But I tried to find the courage to confront the problem, not so much for me but for all who are in the same situation and have no strength to fight, "said Cristian Gaynews.it site. Immediately revealed, this new initiative dubious military administration has provoked many reactions of indignation. The Radical, left, were seized on Wednesday and submitted a parliamentary question addressed to the Ministries of Transport and Defence to shed light on the matter. Paola Concia, member of the Democratic Party openly lesbian and gay rights activist evokes an "act of outright homophobia State" and announced it will add its signature to the text.
LGBT side, it is no less shocked. Arcigay thundered, and denounces an "incredible discrimination, pure ignorance." Mario Mieli Association describes the case of "enormity, licensed worthy of morons." The government is not to be outdone by the voice of his minister for equal opportunities, not always beautiful and gay-friendly Maria Carfagna (read our article). "We will take action to defeat this odious discrimination, the last legacy of theories and a period that will never return," she wrote in a statement. Homosexuality can not of course be considered incompatible with obtaining a driver’s license, business as they are unthinkable. " The abolition of military service in 2006 in the Peninsula has been put an end to accusations from doctors’ offices armed forces. And solving the problem of Cristian Friscina appears to be on track. In a letter he received on Wednesday, the Transportation Authority considers his application admissible. "Hopefully this will put an end to this sad history," he says.
Following a complaint by Danilo Giuffrida, the Italian justice was sentenced last month, calling the departments of Defense and Transportation to pay 20,000 euros in damages for "discrimination and violation of constitutional principles."
June 9 2011 – 9News
Gay parade plans to challenge ‘backward’ Italy
AFP – Europe’s main gay pride festival comes to Rome on Saturday with organisers hoping Lady Gaga’s presence will help amplify their message of defiance against the Vatican and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The US singer is to address what organisers say will be over one million participants with a message of support for gay rights in Italy, which lacks legislation against homophobic attacks and does not allow gay civil unions. "This is the most backward government Italy has had since World War II," said Paolo Patane, director of Arcigay, an activist group founded in the 1980s that is helping to organise the EuroPride parade in the Italian capital. "It’s a government in which the prime minister goes with underage girls but then says that parliament will never approve legislation that contradicts the concept of the family promoted by the Vatican," he said.
Patane pointed out that the mass gathering in Rome also comes just days after Berlusconi suffered a major defeat in local elections and said he hoped it would help "push out this backward government." The EuroPride parade will make its way through the city centre and end with a concert and rally in the Circus Maximus, an ancient Roman arena. The police are expecting around 500,000 people to take part.
Lady Gaga, who has Italian-American roots and has long lobbied for gay rights in the United States, is expected to sing her hit single Born This Way. The run-up to Saturday’s event has been marred by some small anti-gay protests around a fair set up by organisers near Rome train station. Vladimir Luxuria, the organiser of Italy’s first gay pride festival in 1994 and a former member of Italy’s parliament, said homophobia is on the rise. "This parliament is homophobic. The fish stinks from the head and we have a prime minister who is a gay-basher," said Luxuria, a transsexual who has just published a novel linking homophobia in World War II to the present day.
Berlusconi has long been notorious for his off-colour quips and last year dismissed a sex scandal involving him with a homophobic comment saying: "It’s better to be passionate about beautiful women than to be gay." Activists quickly came up with a slogan printed on placards and T-shirts reading: "It’s better to be gay than to be Berlusconi." In another speech in 2007, Berlusconi boasted there were no gays in his party. "Don’t be afraid — the gays are all on the other side," he said. Berlusconi is on trial for paying for sex with a 17-year-old girl and then allegedly abusing the power of his office to try and cover it up. His former wife said she was divorcing him because he "frequents minors."
The prime minister has repeatedly denied all the accusations. Patane said the real challenge for gay rights however is the continued role of religion and "the Vatican hierarchy" in European societies. The Vatican condemns homosexuality and has lobbied hard against legislation allowing more gay rights including marriage and adoptions. Pope Benedict XVI defended traditional family values during a visit this month to Croatia where links between politics and religion are strong. "Do not give in to that secularised mentality which proposes living together as a preparation, or even a substitute, for marriage!" he said in a homily.
He also urged lawmakers to introduce legislation that "supports families in the task of giving birth to children and educating them." Asked to compare the current EuroPride festival to the first one that she organised, Luxuria said that while the numbers of people attending such events have increased drastically, Italy is still stuck in the past. "I’m very sad that there are gay Italians who say they are forced to leave because they’re gay," Luxuria said. She added: "Now the costumes are less provocative because the situation really is serious."
27 July 2011 – PinkNews
Italy rejects anti-homophobia bill
by Jessica Geen
Italy’s parliament has rejected a bill to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people from discrimination. The Chamber of Deputies voted yesterday 293 votes to 250 not to approve the legislation. Gay rights campaigners have called on the European Union to step in. Italy already bans discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, ethnicity and nationality but campaigners say rising numbers of homophobic and transphobic attacks means LGBT people need more protection.
Paolo Patane, head of gay rights association Arcigay, told AFP: “This parliament has betrayed justice and civility and has decided to support the violent.” He added that the EU should “help us face this extremely dangerous rise in homophobia, xenophobia and racism that the Italian parliament has decided to legitimise.”
Nicola Duckworth of Amnesty International said: “In addition to passing the right laws, authorities and politicians should set the example. They should promote equality and non-discrimination and refrain from and condemn derogatory and discriminatory remarks that foster a climate of intolerance.”
Italy also bars gay couples from marrying or adopting children. Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is on record for opposing gay rights, although gay campaigners claim his alleged affairs with minors make him a hypocrite. Last year, the Italian leader brushed off criticism, saying: “It’s better to be passionate about beautiful women than to be gay.”