ILGA Rome 2000

2003-01-24 00:00:00

Background: Struggles in Rome...

Vatican forces World Pride to get out of town

World Pride Moved Away from Vatican

PlanetOut News Staff

Wednesday, May 24, 2000.

World Pride 2000 was an issue May 24 both inside the Italian Parliament at
question time and outside the building where gay and lesbian activists gathered
in protest. Italian newspapers reported earlier that day that the July
celebration in Rome has been moved out of the city's center in deference to
Vatican and right-wing protests. Ostensibly for the sake of "public order," a
rally planned for the national monument site in the Piazza Venezia will be
relocated and the pride march – already planned to be rerouted so as not to
cross the city center or major streets. The pro-Vatican Il Messaggero said this
"compromise" was agreed on over the weekend between Italy's prime minister
Giuliano Amato and Vatican representative Cardinal Angelo Sodano, although the
Vatican would have preferred that World Pride be delayed until after its Jubilee
Year, if not prohibited altogether. Even the government's equal opportunities
minister was quoted as saying fays and lesbians should march only "where they
would not disturb anyone".

But while World Pride is forced to move away from the Vatican, right-wingers are
planning to disrupt and counter them. Those demonstrations will include rallies
at the Piazza Venezia – where world pride now cannot go – in celebration of a
"Week of the Family". Plans include a demonstration for Pride's July 1 opening
day, a weeklong sit-in outside World Pride's offices, and "torchlight vigils" at
a popular gay venue in a park by Rome City Hall. Although it's being said that
the fascist groups received their permits before World Pride had submitted its
requests, this is quite unlikely. World Pride was conceived in 1996, has
planned for nearly three years, and had received a grant from the city of Rome
in 1998, when no conflicts appeared on the calendar, while the right is
reportedly hurrying now to organize its events. The Week of Family was reported
May 7 as a proposal by three Members of Parliament of the neo-fascist National
Alliance party.

Just where World Pride events will be allowed remains unclear; it may be well
out into the countryside . World Pride and other activities were scheduled to
hold a demonstration May 24 protesting their relocation just five weeks before
their event, when the issue has been on the table for months.

Prime Minister Amato told the parliament World Pride was "probably an
inopportune festival in the Jubilee Year.". In the face of calls from the right
wing to delay the event or cancel it altogether, he said, "There are the
conditions to limit the tally to a defined place, to isolate it from the rest of
the city. But unfortunately we must adapt to the we are bound
by the constitution," according to Reuters.

Gay and Lesbian demonstrators reacted to Amato with chants of "Shame ¡ Shame!"
and "Fascist government." Leftist Communist Refoundation party official Nichi
Vendola said, "Prime Minister Amato will not manage to close the gays into a
zoo. The cages of discrimination are exactly what the Gay Pride wants to
destroy." Franco Feillini of the national group ArciGay said, "I ask Amato: What
impression does this give of Italy? It would be the first time that a problem
like this has been posed in a European capital. The Gay Pride and the Jubilee
will not coincide...the rally will not take place in the Jubilee areas." Before
the announcement of Italy barring World Pride from central Rome, the San
Francisco-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)
had called for international protest to Italian officials. IGLHRC notes that
freedoms of expression and association are protected under the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human
Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. IGLHRC further recommended letter to European
Union leaders , since the European Union's Treaty of Amsterdam authorizes the EU
to intervene to stop discrimination based on sexual orientation.


ILGA Co-Secretaries General Letter to Italian Minister

To: Minister Enzo Bianco
Minister of the Interior
(Minister Affair Interni)

c.c. Madame Nicole Fontaine
President of the European Parliament

Date: May 26, 2000

Dear Minister Enzo Bianco,

We are writing on behalf of the 360 member organisations of the International
Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) from five continents to request the
continuation of your support to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trasngendered
people's (LGBT) events in Rome at the beginning of July.

Reports from ILGA's Italian affiliates caused concern that, under the pressure
of the Catholic Church and Italy's neo-fascist movement, Italian authorities may
deny or revoke permits for the events.

One of these events is ILGA's World Conference. It was decided by our World
Conference in South Africa last year that the next one would be held during the
World Pride week in Rome this year. Preparations for the conference are well
underway, and many ILGA delegations have already made their preparations to come
to Rome.

It is our firm belief that, if Italian authorities force cancellation or
postponement of any of the LGBT events organised during the first week of July,
this will be against the many international covenants to which Italy is

We are particularly concerned that this type of action will contravene Article
13 of the Treaty of Amsterdam. If Italian Authorities bow to the bigotry and
prejudice, regardless of the source from which it has emanated, what hope do we
have to have a Europe and a world free of discrimination and persecution? Hence
we are copying this letter to Madame Nicole Fontaine, President of the European
Parliament, with the hope to enlist her support against prejudice and

We are aware of your previous support of the LGBT people's internationally
recognized rights to expression and assembly. Out aim in Rome is not to cause
confrontation, but to be visible in a world which for centuries denied our
existence. We hope you continue to be committed to equality, justice, freedom,
and human rights, and refuse to capitulate bigotry , oppression and

Kursad Kahramanoglu & Phumi Mtetwa
ILGA Secretaries General.


A Lesbian Manifesto for the Jubilee Year 2000

The lesbian and gay movement is an unsettling issue for the Catholic Church,
because we break the sole ethics they want to impose. We are aware of it, and
we do not deny it: giving a political meaning to homosexuality is an explosive
choice clashing with the Catholic ethics and vision which the church pretends to
be universal. Lesbians do not intend to be silent about the fact that women,
lay people, our very democracy have a lot to reproach the Catholic Church for.

The Catholic Church does not relent about contraception, even in the face of
infant mortality in the less rich areas of the world. Its condemnation of
homosexuality not only fosters internalised homophobia in many lesbians and
gays, but also supports aggression and discrimination against homosexuals. The
fact that abortion is forbidden causes women, who cannot afford to pay for a
proper doctor, to die. All religious groups should be free, provided they do
not cause death, mutilation and humiliation of human beings.

Every social progress towards freedom of thought and lifestyle was achieved in
Italy despite the opposition and the condemnation of the Church. Also today,
notwithstanding the jubilee, we intend to forge ahead and try to change society.

Arcilesbica proposes a Lesbian Manifesto for World Pride, calling women and men
to sign it in order to defend pluralist democracy and freedom of choice.

Let's all march in Rome on 8th July

- Against church interference restricting the sovereignty of the Italian State
– For the abolition of the concordat signed by Craxi, which is the heir of
the agreement between fascism and the Vatican,

- Against being obliged to be religious – For the intellectual and moral
legitimacy of atheism,

- Against funding private, confessional and corporate schools – For a pluralist
and critical school,

- Against compulsory pregnancy and heterosexuality – For self determination of
women on sexuality, maternity and lifestyle,

- Against the violence of fundamentalism, superstition and ignorance – For a
society which guarantees freedom of expression of moral and cultural

- Against a sole family pattern – For the juridical acceptance of the
relationship between members of the same sex,

- Against sexism, homophobia and racism – for the equality of all citizens,
without any differentiation because of gender, sexual orientation and race,

- Against the sacrifice of human lives in the name of the Catholic Church's
Life dogmas – for the defense of living beings, for a minimalization of the
risks to personal health.

ArciLesbica Associazione Nazionale
Bologna - Italy