Friday, 27 July 2007

Gay men detained for kissing outside Colosseum

A protest "Kiss" action to follow

Two young gay men were stopped by police in Rome and detained for several hours for the only 'offense' they committed - KISSING in public. This incident caused outrage among rights groups and many ordinary people in Italy. Even government minister expressed her dismay over police actions. This incident clearly shows that having human rights declarations are far from enough to ensure equality. It's outrageous that even in EU member country - Italy, affectionate kiss between two young gay men in public could lead to police detention! How solid and trustworthy could be EU's efforts to ensure equality, tolerance and human rights in other countries if they cannot ensure order in their 'own home'?

ROME (Reuters) - Italian police detained two gay men for kissing outside the Colosseum and accused them of "lewd conduct", sparking howls of protest on Friday from rights groups and calls for an apology from a government minister.

The incident took place late on Thursday, when the men, aged 27 and 28, were taken to a police station for several hours before being released, according to gay rights group Arcigay.

Arcigay accused the police of discrimination and called on homosexuals to gather near the Colosseum on Aug. 2 for a protest "kiss".

Police denied they were homophobic. "It's not an issue of homosexuality, but of legality," said Col. Alessandro Casarsa.

"Faced with an obvious violation of the norms that govern a place visited by thousands of people, the two were written up and let go."

[I wonder how many examples of detention of straight couples for the similar 'offense' - kissing in public, they could provide?]

Italy's Health Minister Livia Turco expressed embarrassment over the episode, saying "things like this certainly don't happen in a normal country".

"I hope that these boys are given an apology because this was a bit excessive," she said.

*source of picture: Arcigay, The Italian Gay Association


Anonymous said...

Since being gay is supposed to be legal in Italy, i don't know how gay kissing can be lewd conduct...but there we go.
Are you going to Brighton Pride? i think i am going to be there with my English gay friends. :)

artmika said...

I suppose, even though Italy is formally a secular country, Vatican's influence still proves to be strong, frighteningly strong... One of the readers of this blog in his message to me pointed out that "the only very religious country I know that is very progressive is Spain. Even though they are very dependent on what the Church says, the present government could make of Spain the fourth country in the world to accept same sex couples to get married and even adopt children." I agree with him that Spain is a great example in terms of gay rights and I wish more countries will follow Spain... detentions are anticipated in Brighton... am sure there will be lots of kissings on the menu ;)... I wish, but unfortunately, I do not think I can make it to Brighton Pride. My friends also asked me to join them, but unless something changed by Fri, will have to stay in London... I hope you will spend great time there, will look forward to your post-pride post :)

artmika said...

Guardian has more on this story here

...However, good news also came out from Italy. As Pinknews mentioned today, "despite the controversy, campaigning groups were celebrating on Friday, after Italy's highest criminal court announced that gay people who seek refuge from persecution in Italy would not be sent back to their countries of origin."

artmika said...

Today BBC confirms that "colective kiss-in" action will go ahead in Rome:

Italians to stage gay 'kiss-in'

Italian gay rights campaigners are to take part in a collective kiss in Rome after the brief detention of two gay men in the capital on Saturday.

The pair, aged 27 and 28, were arrested in front of the Coliseum for engaging in "lewd acts in public", police said.

The two men, who were released soon afterwards, say they were kissing in a gesture of affection.

Their arrest sparked howls of protest in the media and from campaigners who say homophobia is on the rise.


Police said they had not detained the men because of their sexuality but because of the illegality of their act.

Campaigners say at least 100 people are expected to gather at the foot of the ancient arena, in the heart of Rome, to listen to public speakers and take part in the group kiss-in.

"It's a gesture of solidarity rather than protest," Aurelio Mancuso, the head of gay association Arcigay told the BBC news website.

"We want to say that these things can be discussed in an open and positive way, without conflict," he said.

According to Mr Mancuso, Italian society is well ahead of the country's political sphere in recognising gay rights.

The Vatican has attacked a recent proposed law giving more rights to unmarried couples - both heterosexual and homosexual.