Current Affairs

Lesbian teenager in Italy locked up by her parents after coming out

Sofia Lotto Persio October 3, 2018
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This photo taken on May 12, 2016 in Rome shows an Italian police van stationed outside of the Colosseum

This photo taken on May 12, 2016 in Rome shows a police van stationed outside of the Colosseum. / AFP / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Authorities in Italy freed a teenager who was locked up by her parents after she came out as lesbian.

LGBT+ umbrella organisation Gay Center, based in Rome, said that the 17-year-old was liberated last week after she called the group’s helpline, in a coordinated operation with the anti-discrimination police observatory OSCAD.

“The authorities went to her house after we reported the case and they found her locked up,” Gay Center spokesperson Fabrizio Marrazzo told PinkNews.

He said the girl’s parents forced her to stay at home for about a year, only allowing her to leave the house in rare cases.

The girl’s identity has not been released to the media, but Marrazzo said in a video posted on Facebook that she was 16 years old when she came out to her family.

“From that moment on, her life became a nightmare,” he said, describing how her family restricted her from going to school and subjected her to violence and abuse.

People take part in the annual Gay Pride Parade (LGBT), in downtown Rome on June 11, 2016.
(Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty)

The teenager tried to flee once before and contacted the police, but the officers ended up taking her back to her parents’ home.

Marrazzo said that the girl is now safe and being looked after, with the organisation supporting her in rebuilding her life.

He added: “What is normal to many teenagers, it isn’t so for gay and lesbian teens. We think it’s important to approve a law against homophobia as soon as possible.”

Gay Center says it receives around 20,000 reports of homophobia and transphobia to its hotline every year, an average of 54 a day. Minors needing to report instances of homophobia and transphobia can contact their local LGBT+ organisations, and Gay Center also offers an app and the helpline (800713713).

“Once they get in touch with us we try to implement family mediation where possible, otherwise we bring them to safety via the OSCAD and the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research,” Marrazzo told PinkNews. “For those who have turned 18, there is only one facility in the whole of Italy, based in Rome, that can only host eight people and is run by volunteers,” he added.

Marrazzo believes that what happened to the teenager is “very serious” and shows the need for lawmakers to pass a legislation against homo-transphobia which should also include training for public administration staff on discrimination and prejudice.

People hold candles as they take part in a demonstration to protest against homophobia on October 30, 2013 near the Coliseum in Rome. (Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty)

Italy currently does not have a law against homophobia and transphobia. A draft legislation that would expand the definition of a hate crime to include discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation was approved in the Lower House of Parliament on September 19, 2013, but it has been awaiting scrutiny in the Senate for the past five years.

Marrazzo said it’s time to formally protest the Senate’s inaction and plans to call for a general strike if the law isn’t approved.

“We will invite trade unions and the LGBT+ community to a general strike on May 17, in occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, to show support for the law,” he said.

Related topics: Europe, fabrizio marrazzo, gay center, Homophobia, Italy, Italy, Rome

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