Italian group commerates gay man's suicide during Vatican protest

Troy Espera | Janury 15, 2007

Gay rights rally in Rome
ROME — A group of gay rights activists rallied near the Vatican Saturday to commemorate the suicide of a gay Italian man in St. Peter's Square nine years ago.

According to the Associated Press, the group of a few dozen gathered on the edges of the square, carrying banners and waving rainbow flags, a symbol of gay rights movements.

They also protested what they told the AP was the Vatican's interference in the affairs of the Italian state. "Less Vatican, more self-determination," read one banner.

Other banners urged Italy to offer legal recognition to gay and unmarried couples, an issue dividing the current centre-left government and stoking tension between leftists and the Vatican, reports Reuters.

Pope Benedict XVI has spoken out repeatedly against marriage between homosexuals and legal protection for unmarried couples.

In Italy, where political and social developments are closely watched by the Vatican, Premier Romano Prodi's center-left government has pledged to work for legislation to safeguard rights for all unmarried couples, including same-sex ones.

The protest was organized by Arcigay, a leading Italian gay association.

Reuters reports that some Arcigay members laid flowers at the spot in St Peter's Square where writer Alfredo Ormando doused himself with petrol and set himself alight in 1998, in protest at the Vatican's stance against gays. He died of his burns nine days later.

In his suicide note, Ormando wrote at length of how he felt rejected by the church and of the pain it had caused him, reports Reuters. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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