Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) in Italy

Giovanni Licchello
Giovanni Lucchello - Mr. Gay Italia 2013

An introduction to the Italian gay lifestyle

Some of Italy's greatest and most venerated Italian artists - Michelangelo Buonarroti, Leonardo Da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, and Caravaggio among them - were homosexual.
If you're an opera lover, you may yearn to hear an opera by Verdi or Puccini. Opera is embedded in the Italian culture and in large part in the gay community.
Or maybe you just love "mangiare" (eat), in which case you can look forward to delicious food and wine. Italy has now several gay-owned or gay-friendly restaurants. You will find them in popular destinations like Viareggio, Milan, Rome, Florence.

And you can't overlook the beauty of the Italians themselves.
Whether sauntering haughtily down the street in a tailored Armani suit and talking on a cell phone or squeezed into tight Dolce&Gabbana jeans and racing through the ancient streets straddling a Vespa, Italian men know how to cut "una bella figura" (nice appearance).

The women? Equally gorgeous but more mysterious, with penetrating eyes, husky voices and an elegant flair and secret power of their own. You can appreciate Italy on so many levels it's pointless to enumerate them all.
Rome and Florence represent very different aspects of Italy. Each is singular in terms of its art, architecture, history, cuisine and overall gay atmosphere. Rome and Florence have developed a gay social network of political organizations, bookstores, social groups, bars and clubs. Don't let that stop you from going to Venice, Milan or the Amalfi coast. Gay life in Italy is a complex subject that often confuses queers from more open countries.
The Italians, in most general sense, don't proclaim their sexuality if it's homo or bi. Only in recent years has the subject been openly talked about. The Catholic Church continues to exert a tremendous influence on everyday attitudes. It lobbied long and hard to prevent the 2000 World Pride events in Rome from taking place. Rather then welcoming the estimated half-million gays and lesbians to the Eternal City, Pope John Paul II expressed his bitterness, saying it was an affront to the church and the Christian values of the Italian capital.

The honorary president of Arci-Gay, Italy's national gay rights organizations, shot back: "The pope is wrong to condemn World Pride. The real offense is homophobia and antigay prejudice fueled by the Vatican hierarchy." Similarly, Italian AIDS activists consider the church to be a real foe in the arena of public health policy. Another factor to consider is that Italy - and Mediterranean cultures in general - are family-oriented societies where the male-macho ethic runs strong. Under these conditions it's more difficult for gays to come out; many opt instead to lead a double life. But homosexuality is not illegal in Italy.
The legal age of consent is 16. Just remember this: Sex, whether homo or hetero, must be kept private. Gay political agitation began in the turbulent early 1970s with a revolutionary gay group called F.U.O.R.I. ("Out"), spearheaded by Mario Mieli and Corrado Levi. A rash of homophobic violence forced more of the Italian gay community out of the closet and led, in the early 1980s, to the formation of a national gay organization known as "Arci-Gay Arci-Lesbica".

There are now dozens of Arci centers throughout Italy, selling yearly membership cards, called "Arci-Gay Uno". These cards are required for admittance to many gay bars, discos and saunas. As a foreigner, you may be exempted, but having an Arci membership is a good way to show your support. You can buy the card at the bar or disco. Gay and lesbians in Italy today have basic constitutional protections against discrimination in the home and in the workplace. In some cities, same-sex couples can register as domestic partners. These aren't national laws, so same-sex couples can't adopt children - but, in time, anything is possible.
Read the article from the Los Angeles Times titled: "For gays in Italy, rights and acceptance are still elusive" for a recent look at the LGBT situation in Italy (January 2014).

Latest news about Gay Italy

In Italy, Adoption by Gay Couples Is Still Illegal - Huffington Post

In Italy, Adoption by Gay Couples Is Still Illegal
Huffington Post
In Italy there's the Senate, where the Democratic Party's proposal on civil unions is set for its nth discussion. Civil unions; no one speaks of gay marriage. Can you imagine? In Italy, practically speaking, adoption does not exist (according to the ...

Italian Mayor Wants To Ban PDA, Kissing Between Gay Couples - Huffington Post


Italian Mayor Wants To Ban PDA, Kissing Between Gay Couples
Huffington Post
No thanks," Gianluca Buonanno, the mayor of the Italian municipality Borgosesia, told Italian newspaper La Repubblica, per a Huffington Post translation. "I don't like two people of the same sex making public displays of affection. It's a question of ...
Italy: Mayor attempting to ban all gay kissingPinkNews.co.uk
Gay PDA: Some Same-Sex Loving Italians Could Face Harsh FinesFrontiers LA (blog)
Italian Mayor Wants to Ban Gay Kissing in PublicAdvocate.com
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Gay US Mil Spouses Get Same Protections in Italy - Military.com


Gay US Mil Spouses Get Same Protections in Italy
A new agreement between the Defense Department and the Italian government will allow same-sex military spouses to move to U.S. bases in Italy as command sponsored dependents. Although the policy baring openly gay members from the military, known ...

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Dependent benefits extended to gay and lesbian spouses in Italy - Stars and Stripes

Dependent benefits extended to gay and lesbian spouses in Italy
Stars and Stripes
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Same-sex spouses of U.S. servicemembers and Defense Department civilians assigned to Italy have been granted command sponsorship, allowing them access to base facilities and other benefits available to heterosexual ...

Big Italian bank recognizes gay marriage - The Local.it

Gay Star News

Big Italian bank recognizes gay marriage
The Local.it
The agreement, signed with unionists on Thursday, will see gay employees given the same marital leave as their straight colleagues, La Stampa reported. Although gay marriage is illegal in Italy, the employee benefit will be applied to couples who wed ...
Italy banks on gay marriageGay Star News
Italy: Second largest bank recognises same-sex marriages with equal leavePinkNews.co.uk

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