Italy: Gossip magazine under fire for giving away homophobic joke book
An Italian gossip magazine, has come under fire for attaching a book with homophobic jokes to its latest edition.
The book’s front cover features a cartoon with one man saying, “Do you want to play hide and seek?” and the other replying, “Ok, if you find me you can rape me. If you don’t find me… I’ll be in the closet.”
Since the edition of magazine Visto was released at the weekend, two petitions have been created on Change.org to demand its removal from shops.
Roberto Alessi, the magazine’s editor, claimed to have had no prior knowledge of the book’s contents.
La Stampa reports that Alessi said: “It’s disgusting, it has nothing to do with editorial staff.”
Andrea Maccarrone, president of the gay cultural organisation Mario Mieli, said in a statement: “We welcome the apologies made yesterday by the editor Roberto Alessi but we find it rather strange that the person in charge of a weekly publication can claim to be completely unaware of what was attached to a publication that he edits.”
She also said that the decision to include the homophobic joke book was in “terrible taste and offensive to all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who suffer harassment, violence and discrimination.
“The book perpetuates prejudices and stereotypes that take Italy back to a time when gays and lesbians were forced to hide or were subjected to violence and mockery, casting dangerous messages, especially for young people in a country that is still struggling to develop a national strategy for the fight against homophobia and transphobia.”
Federico Silvestri, the general manager of Visto’s publisher PRS, did not apologise for the inclusion of the book, stressing that the book was part of a series which included sexist and anti-Semitic jokes.
He said: “I defend and lay claim to the decision to attach joke books on various subjects in Visto, which include those on gay people, which is no longer a taboo subject.
“It’s rather those who think the opposite who are discriminating. I am following the rise of this completely bogus and misplaced controversy with great surprise.”