Reports that the health minister in Mario Monti’s new government banned Italian state radio from using of the word “condom” in a series of programmes to mark World Aids Day have outraged HIV campaigners.
An emailed missive from Laura De Pasquale, a senior official at Rai, Italy’s equivalent of the BBC, appeared to spill the beans on the government’s pious intervention regarding the broadcasts on Rai Uno radio. “I’d like you to note that in the last few hours the minister [Renato Balduzzi] has repeated that in no contributions should [the word] condom to be explicitly used. You should limit yourselves to the general concept of prevention in terms of sexual behaviour,” it said.
Rosaria Iardino, founder of the Italian Network of the People living with HIV, said: “I’m so angry, because nothing ever changes. Everything’s mentioned except the only thing that’s actually important – the condom.”
Italy’s leading daily paper Corriere della Sera said the intervention by Mr Balduzzi, a practising Catholic, showed “that in Italy in 2011 the word condom is still taboo”.
And the development appears to give credence to warnings by some left-wing politicians that even Mr Monti’s lauded technocrat government was not free from the socially ultraconservative influence of the Vatican. No one at the health ministry was available to comment.