Lady Gaga in gay rights march

2011-06-11 22:29
Rome - Thousands gathered in Rome on Saturday for a gay pride parade to challenge the Vatican and Silvio Berlusconi's "backward" government over same-sex rights, with Lady Gaga as the star guest.

Slogans read "Different People, Same Rights" and "Equality and Human Rights for All!" as the parade got under way, while fans and photographers massed around the luxurious hotel where the singer is staying.

Organisers of the EuroPride event said their main message was that deeply Catholic Italy is a laggard in terms of gay rights in Europe, with no specific laws against homophobic violence and no provision for gay civil unions.

Prime Minister Berlusconi in 2010 dismissed a sex scandal with a homophobic comment saying: "It's better to be passionate about beautiful women than to be gay."

Vladimir Luxuria, a transgender former member of parliament who organised Italy's first gay pride festival in 1994, said the event would be more of a protest than a celebration.

Referendums

"The fish stinks from the head and we have a prime minister who is a gay-basher," Luxuria said in an interview.

Paolo Patane, director of Italian activist group Arcigay, said he hoped the parade would help "push out" what he claimed Italy's "most backward government" since World War II.

The leaders of two small opposition parties - Italy of Values and Left, Ecology and Freedom - have said they will attend the parade, which also came on the eve of referendums that will again challenge the government.

Susanna Camusso, the leader of Italy's main CGIL trade union, also plans to attend.

Organisers said they were expecting around one million people at the parade, while police forecasts ranged between 300 000 and 500 000. Tight security measures were in place to prevent any possible outbreaks of violence.

"Ours is a hospitable city that is open to everyone," Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno said in a video message to participants.

"There are different views and different laws that have to be considered in a democratic way in parliament with mutual respect," he said.

Represented

A religious group calling itself "Militia Christi" was planning to hold an anti-gay protest and Catholic politicians have warned Lady Gaga, a vocal advocate of gay rights, against making provocative statements about the pope.

Lady Gaga is to give a short speech at around 19:00 GMT at the Circus Maximus - an ancient Roman arena often used for concerts - and will reportedly sing her hit single Born This Way, which celebrates diversity.

"The gay world does not feel represented by someone who makes videos that offend Jesus," said Rocco Buttiglione, the deputy speaker of parliament.

"If Lady Gaga attacks the Holy Father or the Catholic Church, millions of gay moderates will not recognise themselves in those comments," he said.

Carlo Giovanardi, an outspoken junior minister in charge of family policy, dismissed the event as "a chance to mock the Holy Father, make fun of the clergy... and dress up in all sorts of costumes".

Referring to Lady Gaga, he added: "Maybe she is badly informed about our country since all the opinion polls prove that an overwhelming majority of Italians are against marriage between a man and a man and a woman and a woman."

Participation

The 25-year-old singer, ranked this year's most powerful celebrity by Forbes magazine, spoke out last year against the now repealed US policy 'Don't Ask Don't Tell', which forced gay servicemen and women to keep their sexuality secret or face dismissal.

But some weren't pleased about her participation in the parade.

"Frankly, I feel a bit humiliated" that Lady Gaga has to come and support the cause of gay rights in Italy, Paola Concia, a member of parliament from the main opposition Democratic Party, said at the parade.

Comments

  • Illuminus - 2011-06-12 00:30

    The politically correct hordes are trying to conquer the Catholic power base of Rome. Will the media of today really stop at nothing to undermine Christianity? If one examines media today, it actually encourages us to mock and discredit Christianity. I have nothing against homosexuals at all but I feel that Rome should remain true to Catholicism.

  • Reniervdm - 2011-06-12 00:56

    For sure a major slice of the country is against it... isn't that why the governments all over the world labels us a minority? I personally think that this whole gay marriage topic has been ridden to death, at least in Australia I suggest that rather than pushing for gay marriage (which is a major step for our conservative government) push that same sex marriages that has been performed in other countries should be recognized when in Australia. Then with time when the masses and not the "minorities" are use to it... take the next step.

  • Philosopher - 2011-06-12 11:34

    Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. So God says we must kill gays? I think it's time to get rid of God (and all forms of religion). Close down the Vatican and move bibles to the fiction counter in book stores. All bibles should have a warning label and kids should not be allowed to read it. There's some horrific stuff in that book.

      eugene smit - 2011-06-12 13:25

      Philosopher unwise you are, you call on the teachings of earth but forget its God that created you. There will never be peace on earth until people realize that their Philosophy leads to noting but decay. Even the great king of Babel wrote a letter confessing of God's great strength thousands of years ago, who are you to denie this warning? You walk around with your "own" idea's but you follow others trends, you learn for hours just to assume others "learned" knowledge which constantly changes as they learn and try to understand new things You bite the hand that feeds you and mock your Father What good will all this do you when your live have passed? what cause or mark would you have left behind? The dampness of your life will fade.

      johncarlos.biza - 2011-06-12 19:55

      "move bibles to the fiction counter in book stores" In some modern countries, they've done this already

  • JadedKnight - 2011-06-13 22:07

    So many people out to automatically hate Christianity without any basis in fact. It is truly sad. And then you have the zealots like Eugene Smit that give Christianity and christians a bad name. Christianity is NOT about shoving it down other people's throats and sitting in judgement over others. The bible teaches us to love our neighbours - not just those that fit in with a particular narrow minded view. Personally I dont agree with the Gay way of life, but it is up to them at the end of the day, and it is their choice - nobody has the right to sit in judgement. God is not a god of hatred and intollerance.

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