Italy: The new San Francisco?

Italy's minister for equal opportunity thinks gay pride events are "pointless" because "homosexuality is no longer a problem" in the country.


Catherine Price
May 21, 2008 1:25AM (UTC)

For a second, I hesitated writing another post on Italy, lest it seem like we were ganging up on the country that gave us the concept of the Caprese salad. But then I saw this article from the Reuters about how Italy's new minister for equal opportunities is refusing to back a gay pride march because she believes gay pride parades "are pointless," and, well, here we are.

The E.O. minister, Mara Carfagna, is a former Miss Italy contestant and television showgirl. (Hopefully those weren't her only qualifications for the position.) Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi recently appointed her to the post in what some rights groups view as a "deliberate provocation," reports Reuters -- and apparently Carfagna is living up to the accusation. She's refusing to back a gay pride event in June in Bologna because, as she sees it, gays no longer suffer discrimination in Italy.

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"Homosexuality is no longer a problem, at least not the way the organizers of these demonstrations would have us believe," Carfagna is quoted as saying. "Gay pride's only aim is official recognition for homosexual couples, on the same level with marriage. I cannot agree with that."

Yes, that's right. The minister for equal opportunity is arguing against equal opportunity. But Carfagna, who Reuters asserts is caught in a battle between Catholics and secularists, wasn't done yet. According to Reuters she then announced to Corriere della Sera, "Gone are the times when homosexuals were declared mentally ill ... Today there is such thing as integration into society.'"

Apparently that integration doesn't include the right to demonstrate in public, though. The group Arcigay also points out that 14 gays or lesbians have been murdered in Italy in the past two years and that gay people are "forced to hide their sexual orientation at home, at school and at work" -- which sounds to me like discrimination. But then, I'm not an E.O. minister.

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The article doesn't say whether Carfagna retorted by pointing out that her refusal to back the gay pride event reflected an "equal opportunity" for gays to remain closeted at home, at school, at work and in the streets -- but that seems to me like the obvious conclusion. Oh, Italy. On this particular issue, you're making even America look good.


Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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