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article imageItaly: Gay man forced to 'go to prostitute' or lose his job

By Megan Hamilton     Jan 16, 2015 in Politics
Rimini - Homophobia is apparently alive and well in Italy. A report has surfaced which says that a gay man there was allegedly forced by his restaurateur boss to pay for sex with a prostitute or lose his job, Italian media reported earlier this week.
Arcigay, an LGBT rights organization based in Italy has condemned the incident and likened it to tactics used by the Nazis during WWII, The Local reports.
"Even if someone denies there's homophobia in Italy, it certainly exists," said Marco Toni, who founded Arcigay's Rimini branch. "It's forcing him by taking advantage of the need [to work], with threats of dismissal, to act cruelly against a person that only wants to do their work to earn a living," Toni said in a statement.
The man, who is a chef, said he wished to remain anonymous, Metro reports. He stated "I was scared to lose my job so I agreed to do that. I drove to a street where I knew there were going to be prostitutes and I met Marta, a Romanian girl. I explained her the situation and she accepted."
When he brought the woman back to the restaurant, the man realized he couldn't go through with it. He felt like he was being raped, he said.
The woman told the man's colleagues that they had sex and that he was straight, but the chef was still worried that they didn't believe him.
Toni said he hopes that other restaurateurs in the town will offer the man a job in a show of solidarity against homophobia.
In Italy, the fight against homophobia has been an uphill battle.
Studies conducted in 2012 by the Niso project found that 73 percent of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population when polled about this have experienced discrimination or prejudice in one form or another, The Huffington Post reports. The bulk of the discrimination occurred primarily in the academic environment.
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Raul Arboleda, AFP/File
Two of the studies focused on the province of Rome. One was conducted among members of the gay community, where 391 people who were interviewed identified themselves as LGBT individuals. Another study was conducted among 741 students from Belgium, Estonia, Italy, and Holland along with three academic institutions in Rome.
Some 49 percent of the participants said that the areas where they ran into discrimination included schools, followed by family (42 percent), bars and clubs (33 percent), and media and internet (30 percent). Of the gay men interviewed, 43 percent said schools were the most common places they ran into discrimination. For lesbian women, 37 percent said they most often ran into homophobia in their own families. Gay and bisexual men, as well as transgender people faced more instances of discrimination than lesbian or bisexual women.
Currently, Italy has no laws that protect the rights of LGBT people, The International Business Times (IBT) reports. Laws in this country don't offer protection to same-sex couples with kids, and there's no laws on the books regarding homophobia. Also, unlike many other western and European countries, gay couples in Italy aren't allowed to marry nor are their partnerships recognized by the state.
This is very sad.
In the past few years, gay rights movements have taken to the streets to garner rights for LGBT people, but IBT reports Italy's entire political class has vetoed the the implementation on any types of regulation. Fortunately, the majority of the population isn't against granting civil partnerships official status. Quite obviously the realm of this problem lies squarely in politics.
IBT reports that a bill which puts the issue of gay marriage squarely in the Italian parliament's lap is in the works, and that's a good sign. It's a step in the right direction.
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