Friday, 25 July 2008

The Roman Forum: Hate crime in the heart of Rome

A young twenty year old was attacked Tuesday night in what has been defined a "hate crime". The young woman, whose name has been withheld, is a lesbian and works in the locale "Coming Out", the popular homosexual hangout by the Colosseum.

Her recount of the events state that around 3am, after leaving work and heading home on a night bus, she was grabbed and kicked from behind by an unidentified man who repeatedly yelled homophobic slurs. Once the woman yelled back "I'm a woman", the man stopped hitting her and ran off. The victim states she has no recollection of what her aggressor looked like and would not be able to identify him. A few months ago, gay radio DJ Cristian Floris was similarly attacked from behind and insulted.

The pub Coming Out is located at the foot of the Amphitheatre, its large crowds clearly visible any given night of the week, and is the main meeting place on Via di San Giovanni in Laterano, which former mayor Walter Veltroni nominated "Rome's Gay Street". The street has been under fire as of late for its intention, though not yet executed, of becoming exclusively pedestrian. Arcigay president Fabrizio Marazzo stated that, "a choice was made to explicitly hit one of the city's gay symbols. The controversies regarding the street's fate may have possible stirred up emotions of violence and territory-marking in hope of spreading fear."

Mayor Gianni Alemanno immediately responded to the attack by condemning the violent act: "Our solidarity to the victim of this hate crime. Events like this should never happen again, as they are dishonoring to Rome, which has always been a symbol of welcoming and peaceful cohabiting." Regional President Pieri Marazzo echoed the mayor's statement and added that, "Rome and Lazio must act upon educating everyone so this kind of attack does not repeat itself."

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