In Rome, openly declared the capital of gay murders, a statement made to the local free press by Franco Grillini, historical leader of the gay movement in Italy, member of the parliament, and today president of the Gaynet association, a gay journalist, and of Gaynews.it, reported that reprehensible acts of crime against peaceful gay couples have occurred during the months of July and August.
The most serious assault was in Rome within the premises of the Gay Village by more then one man who assaulted a couple and insulted and stabbed severely one of the two, who have yet to recover in the hospital. The second was hit on the head with a bottle.
One of the assaulters, identified by his nickname “svastichella” (little swastika), was caught soon after his flight by the police, but as it happens in many other serious cases, he was immediately released by the judge whose opinion was ”no evidence of the facts for conviction.”
The reaction of the community and of the mayor of Rome Mr. Alemanno made the judge review his sentence and release a mandate to send the culprit to jail. Soon after the Qube, a gay meeting place was set on fire – tt is thought as a reaction of the outlaws to the “brave” (being known for his fascist roots) intervention of the mayor of Rome.
The victim couple declared to the press their fear to live in Italy and their plan to move to a more tolerant European city.
Other cases of assaults to gays occurred along the Rimini Adriatic coast and a city in Calabria. In Rome, again a singer was attacked. In a central district of Naples town, a herd of youngsters assaulted another couple in the style of the movie scene “Suddenly Last Summer!” Many other cases happening daily in Italy (connected with robberies and threats to gay people) are not reported by the victims for personal reasons, including to avoid public scandal. Victims avoid filing police reports.
The homophony in Italy makes for more silent victims, among them youngsters, who cannot accept the intolerance of their parents or of their school mates. Some end up committing suicide.
The opinion of Mr. Grillini, in reply to press questions, is that behind the homophobia in Italy there is a political reason for what is happening. He said, “I wonder why the church never says a word, while it [readily] interferes heavily in the Italian state political affairs?”
Gay and lesbian associations are now planning together with the parents of homosexuals a march on October 10 in Rome.
This date shall be the start of a consecutive month of demonstrations to solicit politicians to enact new laws to protect the gay and lesbian community of Italy. Although the Italian constitution guarantees to all citizens social dignity without distinction of sex, race, language, religion, or political opinions, local politicians are keen to slap at the gay community regularly. Just to quote some of them – PM Silvio Berlusconi declared, “All gays belong to another hemisphere;” Alessandra Mussolini, granddaughter of Benito Mussolini and president of the Parliamentary Commission for childhood said in a recent TV debate, “Better to be fascist than a faggot;” and let’s not even mention the right wing, Lega Nord, or the church.
By irony of fate, a glamorous gay scandal is filling pages of the Italian and international press these days. Mr. Dino Boffo, editor in chief of the daily L’Avvenire (the official voice of C.E.I. – Italian Episcopal conference www.conferenzaepiscopaleitaliana), has dedicated a few pages in the daily Il Giornal, one of Mr. Berlusconi’s publications, bearing accusations of having a love affair with the husband of a woman that Boffo personally and cruelly persecuted, asking her to stop bothering her own husband for the choice he made.
The lady reported the case to the police. Mr. Boffo was allowed to pay a fine in compensation for six months of jail. The case was placed on file for some years. It was brought back into life, incidentally, at a time when Mr. Boffo’s moralist editorials were published to signify the indignation of the church for the known immoral behavior of Mr. Berlusconi. Mr. Berlusconi denies any involvement with the action taken by the editor of Il Giornale, Mr. Feltri. In this circumstance, the CEI hierarchy stands by Mr. Boffo’s defense, along with the blessing of the Pope.
The intolerant view on gays by a good part of the Italian society and its politicians could be highly detrimental to the country’s reputation of an easy way of life, generosity, and its warm sense of welcome. If further homophobic acts continue, and if there are no reactions from the government or even the tourism community, it can be expected that gays will start to avoid Italy for two reasons: fear of being attacked or as a decision to boycott.
So far, Italy is already one of the most conservative countries in terms of tourism promotion. Little has been done for the gay market, especially when compared to other Mediterranean countries such as Spain or France. PM Berlusconi recently declared, “Italy is the country for sky, sun, and sea. It is a magic place that can enchant hearts and can conquest natives, as well as visitors. It is a country where landscape, cities, art treasures, flavors, or its music generate deep emotions. A trip to Italy is a full immersion in art and beauty. Italy is magic, and if you discover it, you will fall in love with it”.
It is not sure if the gay world community will now trust that last sentence spoken by M. Berlusconi.