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Suicide of homosexual boy triggers concern

Police investigate whether victim was cyber-bullied

12 August, 17:45
Suicide of homosexual boy triggers concern (ANSA) - Rome, August 12 - The suicide of a 14-year-old boy in Rome who was bullied because he was gay triggered calls on Monday for quicker government action to pass laws against gay-bashing.

The boy, who jumped to his death from a terrace at the apartment building where his family lived, said he was tired of being harassed and misunderstood.

Reaction was swift.

"It is boys and girls like this that you have to think about," when debating laws to protect gays, said Flavio Romani president of the Arcigay support group.

Failure to create sound laws to protect human rights will mean more pain and trauma, he said.

"Because this is the reality".

The boy, an only child, left a note before he jumped on August 7 that said he had been tormented, according to published reports.

His parents reportedly told police that they were not aware of how much he was suffering.

Police said Monday they would be examining his computer to see if he had been the victim of cyber-bullying, and also interviewing his classmates at school to better understand what drove the boy to take his own life.

The Italian parliament has been debating a controversial bill that would make homophobia a criminal offence.

But several Catholic figures within the centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) political party are unhappy about the bill, fearing it could curtain their freedom of speech and opinion. The Catholic Church considers homosexuality a sin.

A PdL member suggested Monday that "no law itself is enough to solve a complex social phenomenon".

Elena Centemero called instead for more work on promoting diversity in schools through a program of information and education, "Our country needs a strong cultural change in relations between the sexes, in consideration of women and in social and civil rights".

However Laura Boldrini, speaker of the Lower House, said she hoped the incident would spur politicians to move on legislation against gay-bashing to bring Italy's laws in line with the rest of the European Union.

"The tragic story of a 14-year-old boy who took his own life in Rome because he did not feel accepted as a homosexual is a new, dramatic cry of pain," she said.