Around the Jewish World: Italian Jews Condemn Anti-gay Bias, Support Right to Hold ‘pride’ Festival

hold `Pride’ festival Italy’s Jewish community has weighed in on an issue that is dividing the nation — whether Rome should host a World Gay Pride festival in July, despite protests from the Vatican and many politicians.

Amos Luzzatto, Italian Jewry’s senior lay leader, issued a statement of solidarity with the gay community and reminded Italians that gays had been victims alongside Jews in Auschwitz.

“We Jews are extremely sorry about this harsh debate against homosexuals,” Luzzatto, the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, said Tuesday in a statement.

“It involves and marginalizes a minority group which has always been the object of discrimination and whose right is being contested to organize, like any other group, a rally in a place and time chosen with respect to the Constitution and the laws of the land,” he said.

Luzzatto expressed “understanding and solidarity for this group of human beings and our uneasiness before those who in the extermination camps — we with out yellow triangles and they with their pink triangles — suffered all those unspeakable horrors beside us and with us.”

He stressed that respect of minorities was a measure of democracy and civil society.

The issue of the World Gay Pride festival, scheduled for the first week of July with a big parade on July 8, has become a test of wills among political parties and also between Italian political forces and the Vatican.

The Roman Catholic Church has designated this year as a Jubilee, or Holy Year, marking the beginning of the third millennium of Christianity. As a result, millions of pilgrims are converging on Rome for a series of Holy Year-related ceremonies and celebrations, many of which spill outside the bounds of the Holy See.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that homosexual tendencies are not sinful but that homosexual acts are.

Senior Vatican officials have made clear their disapproval of the Gay Pride Festival, saying that such a celebration — which often includes flamboyant public parodying of sexual and religious conventions — would be inappropriate during Holy Year.

Right-wing Italian politicians agree.

On Monday, Rome Mayor Francesco Rutelli drew ridicule from fellow leftist politicians when he told World Gay Pride organizers that the city council could no longer give its official backing to the event.

Rutelli also told World Gay Pride organizers that the city could not agree with some events planned for the week, including a fashion show in a Rome square that is also the site of a Catholic church.

The city council said it would still give organizers the $145,600 it had pledged and the events could go ahead, but World Gay Pride could no longer use the Rome city logo for its events.

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