This Monday, we will be hosting a screening of the international classic “Una Giornata Particolare” on campus followed by a talk with Italian film scholar Mauro Giori. The Golden Globe winning and Oscar nominated movie sheds light on the experience of a homosexual man living in Fascist Italy. In light of the upcoming Dialogue, and as well as Stonewall 50 in New York, here is a quick overview of LGBTQ+ history and uprisings in Italy.
The catalyst for LGBTQ+ movements in Italy started with the Stonewall Uprisings in New York City in 1969. This event can be considered “the shot heard around the world” for LGBTQ+ individuals and it caused many organizations all over the world to begin the fight for the rights of LGBTQ+ people.
The first public manifestation of homosexuals in Italy occurred in Sanremo on April 5th, 1972. This gathering was organized to protest the “International Congress of Sexual Deviations,”a conference regarding sexuality studies. This conference was backed by The Italian Center of Sexology, which praised the use of conversion therapy and lobotomy to “treat” homosexuality. There were over 40 protesters from many international LGBTQ+ groups present. Groups from France, Belgium, England, and Norway came to support the Italian LGBTQ+ population and to demonstrate against the ideologies presented in the conference. Like Stonewall, this protest had a slightly violent side to it: the protesters threw vials of deratting gas to disrupt the conference (which resulted in the conference being interrupted).
The Sanremo protests resulted in the popularization and growing membership of FUORI (Fronte Unitario Omossesuale Rivoluzionario Italiano), which was the first association of the Italian Homosexual Liberation Movement.
Another notable event that further aided the Italian LGBTQ+ movement was the protest taking place in Pisa on November 24th 1979.The demonstration was organized as a result of the killing of a homosexual man in Livorno. Compared to Sanremo, it was the first official organization of LGBTQ+ individuals in Italy, as it gained approval of the local police department and was recognized by the municipality. The event saw the participation of over 500 people. Similar to Sanremo, this event was the spark for the Italian LGBTQ+ movement. In addition to Stonewall 1969, Pisa is celebrating its anniversary this year, as 2019 marks the 40th anniversary of the event.
After these two events, change began to occur in Italy. In July 1998, Pisa’s city council recognized the first marriage between two women by legally registering it in the city’s official records. However, there was a lot of backlash, and the Vatican condemned the city of Pisa for doing so. The presence of the Vatican in Italy is one source that contributes to strengthening very conservative views in Italian society in terms of not only LGBTQ+ issues and rights, but also in terms of reproductive rights and gender equality, as the conservative ideology of the church tends to be more supportive of a much more patriarchal society.
Another event that was just as big and condemnable by the Vatican was when Rome held the World Pride in July 2000. The Pride was purposefully held during this year, as it coincided with a Catholic Jubilee. It is estimated that over 250,000 people came to Rome for the event. Pope John Paul II called the event “an offense to Christian values.”. As a consequence of the event, the first “Family Day”, an anti-gay marriage protest organized by conservative associations, was held. Despite this, the movement still continued to grow.
In addition, more political figures emerged from the LGBTQ+ community. Vladmir Luxuria is the first openly transgender female to serve in a European Parliament and she held office from 2006-2008.
Despite all of this progress and these moments, LGBTQ+ rights in Italy can be regarded as “ Una Situazione Particolare.” Italy is currently the only founding EU member to not recognize gay marriage. Italy did pass a law in 2016 that permitted civil unions between same sex couples, but this is not the same as marriage. This is because under civil unions, same-sex couples do not have the same rights as do heterosexual married couples. For example, partners under a civil union are unable to adopt children. The issue of same-sex couples adopting children and the perceptions of family are just two of the many issues facing LGBTQ+ people.
Today, there are many groups in Italy that have continued the work of what was started in Sanremo and Pisa. Arcigay is currently the largest LGBTQ+ non-profit organization in Italy. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done in Italy in terms of LGBTQ+ rights and the strong conservative views that the country holds. The “Conferenza delle Famiglie” was held in Verona just recently on March 29th. This conference is controversial because it reinforced the hetereosexual familial unit and it completely objects same-sex families. Additionally, the conference praised many controversial views regarding the reproductive rights of women.
Important strides have been made in Italy regarding LGBTQ+ rights, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to raise LGBTQ+ rights in Italy.
Photo credits: Image of a Protester from Sanremo, courtesy of Gay.it ; Protest in Pisa 1979, courtesy of Gay.it.
Be sure to come out to the screening of
“Una Giornata Particolare”
Monday April 15 at 6:30pm
at Villa Sassetti
This event is part of NYU's Stonewall 50 celebration:
In the early hours of June 28, 1969, only blocks from NYU’s Washington Square campus, the Stonewall riots began, proving to be a turning point in the modern LGBTQ+ movement over the ensuing five decades. NYU faculty, students, administrators, and alumni have engaged with this movement, contributing to groundbreaking change, but at times experiencing heartbreaking loss. Fifty years later, join us to reflect on the remarkable social, political, cultural, medical, and legal transformations that followed Stonewall and continue to shape our community and our University.