In a public exchange of letters that has touched many Italians, the speaker of the parliament has asked to meet a young gay man who says he feels suicidal in one of Europe’s most homophobic societies.
The letter published in La Repubblica newspaper on 25 May, by Davide Tancredi, said: “I am gay, I am 17-years old and this letter is my last alternative to suicide in a troglodyte society; in a world that does not accept me even though I’m born that way.
“Not everyone is fortunate enough to be born heterosexual. If there was a little less discrimination and a little more sympathy or Christian charity, people would stop hating.”
In response to the letter, which was given considerable prominence by the centre-left newspaper, Laura Boldrini, the speaker, responded with an open letter of her own. “I have a daughter not much older than you, and I’m deeply disturbed by your cry for help,” she said, before asking to meet Mr Tancredi in parliament to discuss how the situation for gays might be improved.
Italy is, officially at least, the most homophobic country in Western Europe. Thanks largely to the influence of the Vatican, there is no legislation allowing for civil partnerships and no measures to deter homophobic violence or discrimination in the workplace. In this regard it also lags behind South Africa and several Latin American countries.
“A country that considers itself civilised cannot afford to live without a law against ‘homophobia, an evil that drives many young people to take their own lives,” Ms Boldrini said. The supposedly political neutral speaker has angered the Italian right after several proclamations on social issues.