A vile attack against a gay couple after they kissed one another on a train platform in Rome has led to calls for a hate-crime law in Italy.
The incident happened in late February but the video only went viral after being aired on Italian TV yesterday. It was first shared on Facebook by the LGBTQ rights group, Gaynet Roma, who said it took place February 26 at the Valle Aurelia train station.
In the footage, shot on the cellphone of a bystander, a man can see bounding over train tracks to reach the platform where the men – local LGBTQ activist Jean Pierre Moreno and his partner – have exchanged a kiss. The attacker then swings his fists and kicks at them. He continues to attack Moreno.
Moreno told local outlet GayNews was happened: “We were waiting for the last train to go home. While I was kissing my partner, we suddenly heard a man scream from the platform opposite: ‘What are you doing? Aren’t you ashamed?’
“After replying: ‘But what do you care?’ and having resumed kissing with my partner, the guy crossed the tracks and joined us, first striking my partner in the eye. Frightened, he tried to take me away and then fled. But I stayed there, not being afraid to face him and continuing to ask him what problems he was having.”
Politicians from across the political spectrum have condemned the attack.
Rome’s Mayor, Virginia Raggi, of the populist 5-Star party, tweeted: “All forms of discrimination and violence must be strongly condemned. Episodes like this represent an intolerable offense to our entire community.
Democrat politician Nicola Zingaretti called such an attack seemed “unbelievable” and said now is the time to introduce a law against homophobic hate crimes.
Also denouncing the attack was far-right politician Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy party, who posted the video to Facebook and said she was “shocked at this absurd and brutal violence in Rome … I hope the person responsible for this cowardly violence pays: these images are unworthy of a civil country. My full solidarity to the boy who was attacked.”
Her Facebook posting prompted thousands of comments, with many pointing out her party had previously opposed LGBTQ rights.
A homophobic hate crime bill was introduced in the Italian Parliament’s lower chamber last November, although it is opposed by the right-wing party, League, led by Matteo Salvini. The legislation passed in the lower house but is currently awaiting debate in the Senate.
At the time of writing, the attacker in the video has not been caught by police. If he is arrested, he cannot currently be charged with a homophobic hate crime because of the lack of such legislation.