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Rome’s gay quarter hit by homophobic attacks

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  1. Right on the doorstep of the Vatican – this could take a bit of time to get sorted out and new legislation put into place. Interesting one this one.

  2. Simon Murphy 3 Sep 2009, 6:09pm

    Pope Ratzinger will naturally oppose any attempts at legal protection for LGBT people. His opposition led to the shelving of very limited Civil Partnerships for gay people.

  3. I hope the LGBT comunity rallies and makes a defiant stand against this. Yes, no surprise this kind of bigotry is so strong in Italy, with the Vatican on the doorstep.

  4. Who is doing the attacking? The article doesn’t say. Homophobes, obviously, but are they Italians? Italy now has a massive immigrant problem, people from North Africa and from Eastern Europe who do not behave with the laid-back Mediterranean sophistication of the Italians. Visit Rome and there are certain out of the way streets and parks where car after car has steamed-up windows because young Italian straights are inside cfuking with gusto. (They generally live at home until they marry.) Homophobic attacks have always been a rarity in this strange pleasure-loving Catholic country. What’s changed? Who is doing the attacking?

  5. Are you surprised this happening under the new Mussolini, Silvio Berlusconi and with Ratzinger as Pope.

    Serious human rights abuses have been reported in Italy’s dealings with immigrants in the country. Now I guess they are moving onto the LGBT.

  6. Eddy, the attacks appear to be perpetrated by Italian right-wing extremists. The man who attacked two guys outside the Gay Village stabbing one of them has already been arrested. His mates call him Svastichella (Little Swastika). He is now in police custody and has been previously — but never for too long due to some diagnosed mental condition (I think he’s basically a bit slow…).

    LGBT associations in Italy are pushing for an exemplary punishment as well as for a hate-crime law that would finally include crimes perpetrated for discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, something that, given the recent climate, the government is finally getting on board with – including our much talked about ex-stripper minister for equal opportunities. (I know, you can’t make this stuff up!)

    The recent firecracker attacks on the Gay Street again seem to have been committed by two other right-wing extremists but nobody has been arrested for those and the same goes for whoever tried to set the Qube/Muccassassina club on fire… I suspect that the arrest of the first attacker has pushed all these other nut-jobs out of the woodwork to start causing havoc.

    The relaxed Italian attitude you mention is generally true but it only takes a few bad seeds and there are definitely a few of those…

    I know of no homophobic attacks perpetrated in Italy by immigrants.

  7. I was going to say essentially what Eddy said: The Italians are very free and easy about sexuality generally, and many will swing either way given the opportunity. The fact that this is a relatively recent situation indicates a change, and my first thought was Albanians, but there are also many other immigrant factors. Much the same appears to be happening in London as well, and probably most other major European cities as Eastern, Asian and African immigrants move in, and are unwilling to accept our tolerant attitudes.

  8. RobN you could hardly be described as tolerant!

  9. Valerio, many thanks for the information. So for sure a right-wing extremist was responsible for the first attack (and it’s hypothesised that other right-wing Italian extremists may be responsible for the other attacks).

    So, Valerio, are we talking about a rise of fascist skin-head Italian neo-Nazi types, as in Germany, and also here in the UK?

    To what degree is their rise due to their feeling that they have been displaced by often hard-working immigrants? We have evidence here in the UK of hard-working Poles, for instance, being given a tough time in down-at-heel parts of this country by locals who are disaffected or simply jealous of them.

    I can see the angry young Italian fascist easily moving his anger from immigrants to queers and back again, any prey being “good sport”.

    Or maybe the rise of your young Italian fascists has nothing to do with the influx of North Africans and Eastern Europeans, particularly the large number of Albanians?

    It pains many of us here in the UK, long fond of Italy, to hear of this rise of fascist brutality among some young Italians.

  10. “The Italians are very free and easy about sexuality generally”

    They maybe tolerant of heterosexual profligacy, like that of their esteemed Prime Minister, but that doesn’t mean their tolerant when it comes to homosexuality. Italy is easily the least gay friendly country in Western Europe and a lot of it stems from the pervasive macho culture rather than from Catholicism.

  11. Eddy, there have always been right-wing extremists in Italy. It’s definitely not the majority of the population but it’s probably a consistent percentage. Italian society overall is fairly polarised in terms of left/right and there’s a long history of fighting between left-wing and right-wing extreme factions (particularly in the 70s), so those on the left call every one else a fascist and those on the right call any liberal a commie. You can see these in the speeches of Berlusconi who constantly refers to the media attacking him as communist. It has been pointed out to him that he’s consistently attacked by the Economist which can hardly be defined a communist publication but this hasn’t deterred him much as he is not, shall we say, very aware of what goes on around him.

    However, out of those on the right a very small proportion could be defined as extremists (or fascists, as they are called, even though the terms seems a little anachronistic to me). And of course they don’t like immigrants and they don’t like LGBT people, but to say that it’s the fault of immigrants for them firing up and becoming aggressive towards LGBT people is silly. These people are always on the edge of being violent towards anyone they don’t like and their behaviour is no more the fault of immigrants as gay people can be considered the source of homophobia by merely existing.

    LGBT people are becoming very visible in Italy: Pride marches every where, gay streets, the Gay Village in Rome is probably the single most popular summer event in the city (with straights and gay people alike) a large outdoor space turned into club/cinema/shops and this of course makes gay people very visible which spurs on those who don’t like them.

    The problem is that at the moment Italy has a right-wing fairly moderate government. A bit of a joke in more than one way, but hardly a fascist government. In Rome, on the other hand, the mayor has a history of being one of those 70s right-wing violent types and although now he has supposedly “matured” and become a more moderate politician like many others of his generation, the mere fact that he is in power sends a strong signal to these extreme factions who feel legitimised and allowed to commit these violent acts.

    Now the mayor has strongly condemned the recent attacks and declared his support for the government to swiftly pass a new hate-crime legislation to protect LGBT people but his presence as a mayor still has a symbolic value for these extremists.

    I suppose that in much the same way that some LGBT people think that Obama is in favour of same-sex marriage in spite of his official position (I am one of them), a lot of right-wing extremists in Italy are probably convinced that the mayor is playing the role of the acceptable face of a more extreme ideology. I don’t know if they are right. Just like I don’t know if Obama is really not in favour of same-sex marriage.

  12. Simon Murphy 5 Sep 2009, 2:36am

    Italy is strange. It is utterly unacceptable that the Prime Minister owns the media, and therefore can influence how he is reported in the press.

  13. I’ll be blunt I’m black gay and out in London. I work in a multi cultural enviroment and the irony is that the jamacians and poles are the most respectful. The various African women are tolerant but the men are wretched have a passport and can vote. They have such a primitave attitude, eat sleep duck siht. It’s a ducking disgrace. So you have to take people as they come you can’t pre judge. When we get aggro it’s from closet cases or their female partners.

  14. Valerio, thanks very much indeed for a good general picture of the situation in Italy at the moment. Sounds all absolutely credible. Particularly your suggestion that it could be that the legitimate rise in gay and lesbian visibility is causing discomfort to certain others.

    Tilis, interesting to hear your experience of respect from Poles and Jamaicans in London, though disrespect from African males. I read that the major London HIV clinics are assisting a high number of HIV+ African males. I wonder how they feel about having to receive treatment alongside gay HIV+ men! It must make them think something.

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