Italy: Rome Withdraws Support For Lesbian and Gay Event; Worldwide Protests Against the Rise of Neo-fascism

Letters should be faxed to the Mayor of Rome, Honorable Francesco Rutelli at +39-06-678-4239. Letters should remind the Mayor that he is responsible for representing democratic values in the city of Rome. Those values must include respect for minorities, and protection of basic human rights-among them the internationally recognized rights to expression and assembly. If the government of Rome denies the peaceful exercise of those rights to a minority, it will earn the condemnation of the international community.

BACKGROUND:

As documented in IGLHRC's May 23 action alert, "Italy: Government Threatens Freedoms of Speech and of Assembly: Act Now to Defend World Pride," the Italian government and the city government of Rome have been under severe pressure to rescind permits for the planned World Pride gathering. This pressure has come from the combined forces of the extreme right, represented most powerfully by Gianfranco Fini's National Alliance Party, and the Catholic Church.

On Monday, May 29, Mayor Francesco Rutelli of Rome, a member of a center-left party, capitulated to the pressure, informing Pride organizers that the city would withdraw its financial and other support for the event. The city had been expected to be a major sponsor of World Pride. The Mayor's statement elicited a storm of protest. Amos Luzzato, a leader of the Italian Jewish community, criticized the Mayor's surrender to intolerance, declaring that "We wish to express our...solidarity with this group of human beings and our unease before those who in the death camps - we with our yellow stars and they with their pink stars - suffered those indescribable horrors beside us and with us.'' Pride organizers immediately called for a meeting with the Mayor, who reportedly assured them in private that support would be restored.

Since that time, however, the Mayor has issued contradictory public statements. He should be reminded both of his private commitments and of his public responsibility to embrace diversity and to defend democratic values.

In addition, people are requested to protest at Italian embassies and consulates in cities around the world against the rising power of the neo-fascist right in Italy. A complete list of Italy's diplomatic posts can be found at the following internet address: http://www.esteri.it/lafarnesina/indirizzi/amb-cons.htm. Those unable to attend a rally are urged to phone or send a fax or e-mail to the Italian embassy in their country calling for an immediate end to the fascist attempt to foment hate and intolerance throughout Italy and asking for the government's immediate support of World Pride.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE SAN FRANCISCO PROTEST WILL BEGIN AT 11AM!