To help homosexuals “in trouble”, in Italy there is a choice of associations, haunts and meeting places ready to recover the worst mood. One of these is the catholic-oriented association Agapo, helping for statute but critical for passion, which offers a special service called “Secret Friend”; in collaboration with the Local Health Association of Milan, financing the project, it supports gay people in trouble. So far so good. Too bad Agapo proposes, among the other ones, Nicolosi’s reparative therapies, listed by the Psychologists Association among those therapies, theories or philosophies that claim to define homosexuality as intrinsically disordered or pathological. But if the Psychologists Association dissociates from this therapy, how comes the local health funds it? Who are the “agaps”? And above all, how do they propose to “help” gay people?
Q: You aim to help “suffering homosexuals”. If someone calls you, feels bad and cannot stand his own sexuality, what do you do?
A: We are a listening service anyone can call; to be honest most of the calls comes from normal, heterosexual young guys, terrified to be homosexual.
Q: What do you say them?
A: We are a counseling service, we do not say what to do. We help to make a decision.
Q: Who are your volunteers?
A: Some of them have a degree in psychology, others are final-year students and others come from different backgrounds, one for example is a nurse. All of them made a training course.
Q: I understand your association has a Catholic orientation.
A: Yes, our approach definitely incorporates a Catholic scheme of values.
Q: Has this an impact on your “advices”?
A: Not directly. Agapo is for free choice of therapy, each one decides what is best for himself, even when this includes conversion or repair therapies.
D: Those therapies have been labeled as wrong by the Psychologists Association.
A: The Association arguments are shameful, they don’t reflect in any way what the true reparative therapy is. It is an academic conformism characterized by mass non-conformism.
Q: And the same goes for Arcigay ? ( Note: Arcigay is Italy’s first and largest gay organisation )
A: Yes, I think this is a raw nerve of the public discussion. Those who subscribe to Arcigay make a of homo-erotic attraction choice that often has a socio-political value. Some people choose to live differently. Choosing the gay option does not mean to flaunt it at all costs. In religious circles there are many people trying to live in chastity their homosexuality and most times they are happier that way.
Q: Don’t you think that “chastity” is linked to a society that does not accept gays?
A: I exclude it, in fact common sense thinks you are repressed if you don’t make sex, not if you are gay. We are bombarded by sex. The context pretext used to work forty years ago, today it doesn’t anymore.
Q: Where do we stand today with homophobia?
R: Can you clarify the question?
Q: Do you think we live in a homophobic society?
A: It is a very general question. It depends. Middle class gays have no problems, in fact they have an above average professional success. In the lower classes it is more difficult, there is less education and life is definitely harder for those who have homosexual tendencies.
Q: What do you think about Arcigay?
A: Arcigay has the merit of have raised the issue, many years ago. Today it stopped banning the debate on homosexuality and ideologizing homophobia. What Arcigay offers today is reductive.
Q: Someone accuses you of trying to “reduce the damage” of being gay, is that right?
A: No. Our purpose is make the person to take into account all the possibilities. We disagree with the dominant thought, which defines the individual on the basis of the erotic desires. Sex is not identity, even if today we are bombarded.
Q: Too much sex, that’s why people talks so much about gays?
A: Yes, sexual freedom made it easier to come out of the closet, even when there was no need. There is no need to be transparent, not always. Make it clear at all costs a personal thing is a totalitarian claim.
Q: Straight can and gay don’t. Heterosexuals can do everything under the sun, gays don’t, why?
A: The heterosexual usually have no problem with the homosexual, not at a distance. When the two approach, things change. It’s not homophobia, the hetero rejects when identifies himself in the homo image. It is part of man and it has been this way since millennia. It is simply defense, especially in male terms. Also applies to the most progressive ones. Rejection is a spontaneous reaction, it happens to everyone.
Q: In summary, homophobia exists and always will.
A: I would not call it homophobia. Social cognitive and personal reaction are two different things. Homophobia is not a socio-political category. A person who rejects an homosexual is not homophobic, not immediately.
Q: On your site I found a prayer, what is it?
A: It is a prayer for the family. It helps to accept the pain.
Q: The pain from having a gay son/daughter.
A: Yes. Someone frames this suffering as social, political and cultural, we don’t. We believe that suffering is implicit to the individual, who by nature does not accept the non-division of genres.
Q: So, you face a pain that will never end, neither in the future.
A: Exactly. You simply accept it and you cannot do otherwise, because a relationship between man and woman is not the same as a relationship between man and man. It is not. A+A is not equal to A+B.
Q: Talking about families, what do you think about the gay family ?
A: A gay family never existed in any civilization. The political demand exists since twenty years. If the gay family wants its recognition it has to prove itself as a family, becoming a typical phenomenon for gay relationships, and we are very far away from this. Marriage has not been created by law, the natural marriage was born before the law, whereas here the claim is for an acknowledgment in advance. But the problem is different: do they exist stable and exclusive homosexual relationships? We examined about thirty middle class people, and we didn’t find any relationship of this kind.
Q: So, in your opinion,to be gay means to be unfaithful.
A: No, homosexuals often want an exclusive relationship but they are not able to have it.
A: Because they do not have a real reason to motivate them to be faithful.
Q: Are you talking about children?
A: No, not only. Men and women are different and develop a sense of unity in diversity, even without children. A successful marriage valorise the difference.
Q: So, no gay marriage because of “equality”?
A: Yes, equality of sexes is an obstacle in erotic relationships. It is perfect for friendship, no more. For gay the big problem is not sex or love, but the relationship of equals.
Q: I see, thanks. ( By Giorgio Viscardini from vice.com - Translation 5election staff )
“In the name of the Church of Rome, I must express sadness for the affront to the Grand Jubilee and for the offense to the Christian values of a city that is so dear to the hearts of the Catholics of the world…Homosexual acts are against nature’s laws. The church cannot silence the truth, because this would not help discern what is good from what is evil.” ( Pope John Paul II )
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in Italy may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are legal in Italy, but same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples. According to Italy Eurispes report, the percentage of Italians who have a positive attitude towards homosexuality and are in favor of legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples is still growing. In particular, we point out that 82% of the Italian states consider homosexuals equal to all others. 41% of citizens think that homosexual couples have the right to marry in a civil ceremony, and 20.4% agree with civil unions.
In total, therefore, 61.4% are in favor of a form of legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples. This is an increase of 2.5% from last year (58.9%) and almost 10% in 7 years (51.6% in 2003). “This is further proof that the Italians are ahead of their national institutions.”- said the Arcigay national president Aurelio Mancuso .
The major national organization for LGBT rights is Arcigay. It was founded in 1985 and is currently working on gaining some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples. Some openly gay and bisexual Italian politicians include Franco Grillini (former member of the Chamber of Deputies for the Democratic Left); Marco Pannella (Member of the European Parliament and leader of the Italian Radical party); Daniele Capezzone (Spokesman for the People of Freedom party); Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio (former Minister of Environment and first openly bisexual minister); Nichi Vendola (Chamber of Deputies, and President of the Puglia region) and Paola Concia (Democratic Party).
In 2002, Franco Grillini introduced legislation that would modify article III of the Italian Constitution to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. He was not successful. In 2004, Tuscany became the first Italian region to ban discrimination against homosexuals in the areas of employment, education, public services, and accommodations. The Berlusconi government challenged the new law in court, asserting that only the central government had the right to pass such a law. The Constitutional Court overturned the provisions regarding accommodations (with respect to private homes and religious institutions), but otherwise upheld most of the legislation. Since then, the region of Piedmont has enacted a similar measure. Furthermore, since 2003, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment is illegal throughout the whole country, in conformity with EU directives.
In 2006, Grillini again introduced a proposal to expand anti-discrimination laws, this time adding gender identity as well as sexual orientation. It received less support than the previous one had. In 2008, Danilo Giuffrida was awarded 100,000 euros compensation after having been ordered to re-take his driving test by the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport due to his sexuality; the judge said that the Ministry of Transport was in clear breach of anti-discrimination laws.
In 2009, the Italian Chamber of Deputies shelved a proposal against homophobic hate-crimes, that would have allowed increased sentences for violence against homosexuals, approving the preliminary questions moved by Union of the Centre and supported by Lega Nord and The People of Freedom (although 9 deputies, politically near to the President of the Chamber Gianfranco Fini, have voted against). The deputy Paola Binetti, who belongs to Democratic Party, has voted against the party guidelines. Same-sex couples living in Italy have no shared rights to property, social security and inheritance. Since the 2005 regional elections, many Italian regions governed by centre-left coalitions have passed resolutions in support of French style PACS (civil union), including Tuscany, Umbria, Emilia-Romagna, Campania, Marche, Apulia, Lazio, Liguria, and Abruzzo. Sicily and Lombardy, led by the centre-right House of Freedoms, officially declared their opposition to any recognition of same-sex relationships.
All these actions, however, are merely symbolic as regions do not have legislative power on the matter. Despite the fact that several bills on civil unions or the recognition of rights to unregistered couples have been introduced into the Parliament in the past twenty years, none has been approved owing to the strong opposition from the social conservative members of parliament belonging to both coalitions. Last, on 8 February 2007 the government led by Romano Prodi introduced a bill which would have granted rights in areas of labour law, inheritance, taxation and health care to same-sex and opposite-sex unregistered partnerships. The bill was never made a priority of the legislature and was eventually dropped when a new Parliament was elected after the Prodi government lost a confidence vote. The government led by Silvio Berlusconi opposed the recognition of any form of same-sex relationship.