The newly elected Mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, has taken the media by storm in the past few weeks when he imposed anti gay orders within the city. The latter first stirred a controversy when he mandates to officially withdraw books from primary schools and nurseries depicting homosexuality and disability, thus, provoking fury among the LGBT community.
For a second time in a few days, he constructed another order that aggravates the tension towards the LGBT community when he recently pledged to ban gay pride processions, quoting “There will be no gay pride in my Venice.”
His first move was condemned by gay rights activists and even some openly gay personalities like the British Rock Star Elton John, who had him branded a “bigot”. Coming under fire, Elton John rebuked Brugnaro in social media sites, saying “He has stupidly chosen to politicize children’s books by banning titles that touch on same sex families living happily ever after.”
In reaction to the musician’s comments, Brugnaro responded “Dear #EltonJohn, you, who loves my city so much, what resources other than buying a house, have you ever offered to save Venice?”. Adding his reason behind, “The whole world should know that we, the people of Venice, will defend our children. We will bring our great Venice back together.”
Flavio Romani, the President of Italy’s main gay rights groups – Arcigay, reacted by saying that the mayor should not be imposing his personal preference to the entire city. “Venice is a cosmopolitan city where multiple cultures and religions meet. Brugnaro has to understand that it does not only belong to him”, Romani added.
The seemingly unending outcry between the Mayor and the gay rights activists had boosted protests everywhere. Hundreds of Italian authors plead to have their books removed as well. While some residents in Venice had public read-ins with the banned books as a sign of protest they promote on a Facebook page entitled “Free Our Books”. Recently, some personalities have created petitions on websites against the Mayor’s anti gay orders. Websites like www.change.org has garnered over 30,000, and counting, signed names last July for the prohibited literature. The most recent petition created is in a website like www.go.allout.org that persuades to an appeal against the anti gay Mayor, with their main goal to boost media coverage of the protest happening on Saturday, August 5th, anticipating to stop his anti gay ordinance in Venice.
Italy, being the only major western European country where same sex unions are unrecognized, has a growing percentage of Italians who have nothing against homosexuality and are in favor of legal recognition of same sex marriage. LGBT rights groups and public campaigns continue to fight for equal rights, anticipating an ambiguous victory in the future.