Thursday, 3 September 2009

ANSA: Gays alarmed by homophobic attacks

Firecracker on Gay Street marks third incident in a week

(ANSA) - Rome, September 2 - Members of the Italian gay and lesbian community expressed alarm on Wednesday after the latest in a string of homophobic attacks.

''These are acts of terrorism from people who want us to live in hiding,'' said Franco Grillini, president of gay journalists association Gaynet.

On Tuesday night, a pair of firecrackers were thrown at a crowd of people on a street known for being a popular meeting place for gays and lesbians.

Witnesses said four unidentified men ran away after the firecrackers exploded.

According to police, the blasts left one injured, a man hit in the ear by a flying shard, and damaged a scooter.

Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno said Wednesday that the attacks were ''extremely worrying'' and promised to beef up security in areas frequented by homosexuals.

Vladimir Luxuria, a transgender activist and former PM, commented that ''Rome isn't a safe city for gays'' and warned of ''a cycle of homophobic terrorism''.

Monday's incident is the third case of homophobic violence in Italy in under a week.

Last week, a young man was stabbed in an attack near the site of Rome's summer gay and lesbian festival. Days later, a pair of tourists in Naples were beaten up by a gang of young men. The incidents spurred a gay musician in Rome to come forward saying he'd been assaulted by a man shouting insults earlier in August.

The president of gay rights group, Arcigay, Aurelio Mancuso called on the government Wednesday to include gays and lesbians in a hate-crime law being debated in parliament.

''The absence of laws protecting gays makes dangerous fringe elements think they can get away with violence'', Mancuso said.

According to Arcigay, the number of homicide and assault cases involving homosexuals in 2009 have already surpassed those from the year before.

The organization said that it planned torchlight processions in Rome every Friday starting this week to demand that something be done.

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