Gays Protest Berlusconi's Insult
This past Tuesday, the Prime Minister of Italy, the conservative Silvio Berlusconi, in trying to deflect public scrutiny away from his dalliances with teenage girls, made an insulting remark about gays:
"It’s better to be passionate about beautiful women than to be gay."
Several chapters of Italy's umbrella gay political organization, ArciGay, responded with condemnations and calls for an apology. The chapters also staged protests in at least five cities, some of which used fennel, a plant that in Italian slang means fag, to deliver a message of loud pride to Berlusconi and the general public. I've searched the web for reports, photos and videos of the actions, and here are the highlights of what I found.
There was a large turnout yesterday afternoon in Florence, where one of the city's newspapers reported 150 protesters showed up at the local prefecture and many carried fennel:
Also on Saturday afternoon, members of Arcigay in Verona staged a flash mob and the chapter's web site reports that actions took place in thirty-one cities across the country. If true, that is an impressive nationally coordinated response, but even the handful of actions that I am aware of is very commendable:
Early on Saturday evening, two dozen activists staged a protest at the Agrigento prefecture office, and the local paper was there to cover it:
On Thursday night, according to Bologna's leading newspaper, 300 people turned out for an evening protest, making this the biggest demonstration organized by the gays in the days after the prime minister made his rude remark:
Prior to Bologna's big rally, local lesbians gathered at a local gay community center and cafe, to make signs and build solidarity:
Down in Sicily, the Palermo chapter of Arcigay promised on their blog that a protest would take place, but so far, I have not been able to locate either a report on the action or photos from it.
Finally, the best video from the protests, in terms of showcasing a very handsome young gay leader, Valerio Barbini, comes from Genoa's Arcigay group. In that city, the protest was on Friday, and the local newspaper reported 40 people showed up. This video was made by the paper:
Complimenti, per le persone omosessuali in Italia per l'organizzazione di azioni da favola in tante città. I gay di San Francisco saluto il vostro duro lavoro. Continuare la lotta per la libertà e la solidarietà.
Congratulations to the gay people of Italy, and keep up the fight for liberty and solidarity. Gays of San Francisco salute you!
The signs that the woman and man are carrying say: "We want rights not insults" and "A law against rising homophobia." I can't read all the words on the women's sign (too small), but the big letters at the bottom say: "He is an insult to women, democracy and Italy." Just thought folks might want to know...
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