(Lady Gaga performs during a gay pride concert in downtown Rome. Stefano Rellandini / Reuters)
The gay icon Lady Gaga was there wearing her green wig, together with up to one million people marching chanting singing in a carnival gay pride march.
Rome is the capital of Vatican too, the place where Pope lives and preaches from his balcony every Sunday morning about how people should live and love. Lady Gaga's motto this Sunday was the power of love. She recalled her Italian origin and name ( La Germanotta) and, in a passionate speech, demanded immediate equal rights for the gays, meaning the right to get married, have children etc. While singing her new song Born This Way, an anthem to diversity...
But only few days ago, the Pope announced his firm opposition to equalize even straight informal marriages, that is, unions not sanctioned by God in a marriage sacrament. Where the Catholic church is concerned, gay marriages are not only a taboo topic but even a place of severe demonization and homophobia.
The Italian state has fought a long and heavy battle against the Catholic church, which reached a certain status quo with the "Concordato" in 1929, signed when Mussolini was in power. With this arrangement canonic law became the civil law too, regulating marriages, prohibiting divorce, freedom of choice, sexual diversity...Only in the seventies did civil society activism manage to pass Italian law that made divorce and abortion possible, as well as non legalized marriages.
However gay rights never became a focus in Italian society. Civilian gays have been battered, criminalized and persecuted, notwithstanding the huge sex pedophilia scandals running among Catholic priests who have been getting away quite easily all these years with their criminal abuse of power. Italy today is still a macho society mirrored publicly by its premiere Silvio Berlusconi who very often justifies his sex scandals with minors and prostitutes with the words, at least I am not gay.
By contrast, a gay politician of Rome caught with a transvestite prostitute had to resign because of his public image being ruined.
This parade yesterday in Rome was extremely well organized by the LGBT community even though many antipope offensive banners were flying together with the drag queens, masques of famous icons, wigs, rainbow flags; Pope Ratzinger was renamed Natzinger.
Gay politicians from the Italian parliament gave speeches pointing out that Italy is ranking at level 0 in the European community regarding minority rights. The Cinderella of Europe, as Italy is called as of today, would not be accepted to join the European community nowadays. Yet Italy remains a G8 powers and a founder of united Europe.
Italian double standards baffle other European countries as well as the progressive italian citizens. Only a couple of months ago, the right winged regional government in Piemonte northern Italy, tried to impose a new measure on abortion. Women who have the national constitutional right to abortion, would have to face a restrictive treatment with the pro life volunteers manning hospitals.
The right winged elected politician, immediately after his victory, announced his antiabortion and anti gays policy. Somehow women and gays are always the primary target of conservatives and the civil rights of gays and women should also be the first test for the real level of democracy in a country. Democracy must include all citizens, notwithstanding their diversity.
Yesterday Italy also voted against nuclear power after Germany said a definite no, after Japan suffered the tsunami catastrophe with numerous leaks, 25 years after Chernobyl, in the midst of global warming tragedies, and religious antiDarwinist denials.
Looking at the parade in Rome, with the association of parents of gay children proudly marching for the rights of their posterity, I wondered what kind of world is coming, and how responsible and guilty are we today for making it worse rather than better.