Transgender MP Vladimir Luxuria led approximately 100,000 men, women and trans folk through Rome this weekend to celebrate gay pride.
Though organizers steered clear of the Vatican, they ended the festivities at the Pope’s official seat, the Basilica of Saint John Lateran. In addition to calling for an end to worldwide discrimination, Italian gays demanded the government grant them marriage rights: a contentious issue in this Catholic country. One drag queen demanded,
We are heteros, gays, lesbians and bisexual and we want Romano Prodi to give the same rights to all. Where are all the promises the government made? Evaporated into nothingness?
Luxuria, meanwhile, expressed hope that this would be the year the government came to their senses. Social Solidarity Minister Paolo Ferrero also came out to support civil rights:
I am here to salute the participants of the Gay Pride … because their demands are positive. They bring up problems and questions which concern all Italians.
Prime Minister Romano Prodi continues to push against the Vatican by endorsing civil unions and inheritance rights. Conservatives object, however, insisting the move would lead to full-blown gay marriage and, thus, the end of the world.
Prodi’s certainly in step with gay activists, who flashed signs praying for “More Freedom, Less Vatican”. The Pope recently referred to gay marriage as a “social distortion” and pledges to fight the law until hell freezes over. Politcos also vowed to defend Italy and the proverbial family from pride’s velvet glove. MP Isabella Bertolini fumed,
This government discriminates against the family… The government sponsors Gay Pride but would not sponsor Family Day. What a terrible disgrace for the State.
Not as disgraceful as withholding rights, but we suppose it’s all relative. As in relatively simple: the state must protect all rights, not just those it feels guarantee a spot in the great myth in the sky.