'Gay Street' declared by Italian LGBT rights group

Anthony Cuesta | August 06, 2007

ROME — The leading Italian gay rights group dubbed Via San Giovani in Laterno Rome's new "Gay Street," declaring it a "point of reference for the gay and lesbian community."

The declaration comes as a response to a row over two men who were arrested last week and charged with public indecency for kissing by the Colosseum. The police said their embrace went much farther in a "manifest and unequivocal way."

"This will be an area where people can feel at ease, and it is also meant to be a bridge between the citizens and the homosexual community," activist Fabrizio Marrazzo, the leader in Rome of Italy's Arcigay gay rights movement, told the Associated Press. "We hope this will become a contact point to for us to make our differences known (to others) and create a climate for peaceful coexistence."

One of the two arrested men took part in the street's festive inauguration, insisting they only shared a gesture of affection after a night out. Gay couples held a small "kiss-in" rally near the monument on Sunday to protest what they say was an act of discrimination.

Several establishments frequented by homosexuals have opened in the street since 2001, but Rome does not have a gay district similar to those in other cities.

Thursday's rally had the support of several members of Prime Minister Romano Prodi's centre-left government, including Equal Opportunity Minister Barbara Pollastrini, Youth and Sports Minister Giovanna Melandri and Social Solidarity Minister Paolo Ferrero.

According to the AFP, Ferrero told rally participants: "There is still a long road ahead in terms of democracy, freedom and respect." – Issued by Gay Link Content

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