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Gay attack sparks campaign for homophobia law

Rising intolerance makes legislation necessary, say supporters

31 May, 18:38
Gay attack sparks campaign for homophobia law (ANSA) - Rome, May 31 - A brutal attack on a gay man in Rome has led to a fresh campaign for politicians of all sides to back the introduction of an anti-homophobia law in Italy. The 24-year-old victim spent five nights in hospital having been punched and kicked until he bled and insulted by four youths after a visit to a gay bar in the area of the Colosseum last week. It was the latest in a series of attacks targeting homosexuals in the Italian capital over the last year, including an arson attack on a gay disco that is among the hate crimes being investigated by an anti-terrorism task force.

"Gay and lesbian Italians have the right to live free from fear and violence and be considered first-class citizens," Paola Concia, an MP with the opposition Democratic Party (PD) who has tabled an anti-homophobia bill that is jammed in parliament, said on Monday.

"I'm making an appeal to all parties and representatives of the right and left of the political spectrum," added Concia, a lesbian. "I call on everyone to cooperate so that this law gets approved. If this law is to happen, it will need to be a bipartisan law".

Gay groups say the new legislation is needed to protect gays, lesbians and transgender people from rising intolerance.

The victim of last week's attack made a personal appeal to Premier Silvio Berlusconi to give the bill his support.

"I think there's a need for concrete acts and I want to make an appeal to Premier Berlusconi to have the law against homophobia approved," the man, who wanted to remain anonymous, said in a statement issued via the Arcigay association.

But Rome's right-wing Mayor Gianni Alemanno, who condemned the attack, said he was not in favour of the new legislation.

"I'm against a law on homophobia because it would inevitably have ideological content," he said.

"On the other hand, I'm in favour of a (new) specific aggravation to violent crimes".

Homosexual groups have said they intend to step up their campaign to raise support for the bill at Rome's Gay Pride march on July 3. photo: torch-light protest at scene of beating.

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