Italians demand urgent hate crime bill after gay couple is violently attacked in Rome metro station
A violent attack on a gay couple in Rome has prompted politicians from across the political spectrum to call for the quick passing of a hate crime law in Italy.
The assault on a gay couple in the Valle Aurelia metro station in February recently began receiving national attention after video footage of the attack was shared by LGBT+ organisations and shown on TV in Italy.
According to Wanted in Rome, the attacker ran across the train tracks to reach the kissing couple, before repeatedly punching and kicking them, while asking: “Are you not ashamed of yourselves?”
The attack has prompted calls by political leaders in Italy for the passage of a hate crime bill, which was approved by the Italian parliament’s lower house in November last year.
The hate crime bill would add LGBT+ people, women and people with disabilities to existing legislation which protects Italians against hate crimes based on race, ethnicity and religion, but far-right parties and religious leaders are staunchly opposed to it.
If passed by the upper house, hate crimes against LGBT+ people would carry a prison sentence of 18 months.
Rome mayor Virginia Raggi, of the Five Star Movement political party, wrote on Twitter that the attack was an “intolerable offence against all our community”, and added: “All forms of discrimination and violence must be strongly condemned.”
Solidarietà e vicinanza ai due ragazzi vittime di un'aggressione alla stazione Valle Aurelia. Ogni forma di discriminazione e violenza va fermamente condannata. Episodi come questo rappresentano un'offesa intollerabile verso tutta la nostra comunità.
— Virginia Raggi (@virginiaraggi) March 21, 2021
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Nicola Zingaretti, the centre-left Partito Democratico governor of the Lazio region of Italy, shared on Facebook: “Two young men beaten up for a kiss. It seems incredible but it happened to a gay couple in Rome.”
Even Giorgia Meloni, who leads Italy’s right-wing Brothers of Italy party, publicly condemned the attack and called for the perpetrator to be punished.
Sharing the video footage on Facebook, she wrote: “I remain shocked in the face of this absurd and brutal violence in Rome at the expense of a young man who, as the press has presented it, was supposedly attacked only because he was kissing his companion.”
“These images are unworthy of a civilised country,” she added.
According to ABC News, Italy’s hate crime bill, if passed, would also allocate funding for legal and healthcare costs to LGBT+ organisations combatting discrimination.