The treatment of gays and lesbians (1997 to January 1999) [ITA31045.E]

A report by DPA states that tolerance toward gays has increased in recent years, particularly in the country's northern cities of Milan and Bologna, but that "hard-line machismo and conservatism" remains strong in Italy's southern regions (4 Mar. 1998). In the DPA report, Arcigay president, Franco Frillini, states that "the real problem of Italian gays is the Catholic Church" since "Catholics rejected any reform that might reduce discrimination." Similarly, The Irish Times stated that "homophobia never seems far from the surface" and "to be gay in Italy is to be forced to live underground" (11 Feb. 1998).

AFP reported in July 1998 that Pisa's city council recognized the first homosexual marriage of two women by legally registering it in the city's records (13 July 1998; also see The Buffalo News 24 Oct. 1998). The Vatican strongly protested the decision stating that it went against the traditional family structure (ibid.). A November 1998 Newsweek article reported that despite strong opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, municipal governments in Pisa and Florence had voted to recognize same-sex common-law marriages, thus entitling couples to joint insurance and tax returns (23 Nov. 1998).

However, there are several reports of murders and attempted murders of reportedly gay men in 1998.

The killing of Enrico Sini Luzi, a Gentleman to the Pope and a professor of theology, was reported in early January 1998 (Action Alert Mar. 1998; The Irish Times 11 Feb. 1998; Sunday Telegraph 11 Jan. 1998). According to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) Action Alert, Luzi was a "closeted gay man." The Sunday Telegraph states that Luzi was found dead in his home, having been battered over the head with a candlestick. Arcigay, one of Italy's gay organizations, attributed Luzi's death to a "homophobic serial-killer" and stated that homophobia in Italy had reached a "national emergency" level (ibid; The Irish Times 11 Feb. 1998).

DPA reported in March 1998 that Paul Badea, an illegal immigrant, had admitted to killing Luzi (4 Mar. 1998). According to Badea's lawyer, Luzi had promised his client a job in exchange for sexual favours, but Luzi did not deliver on his promise (ibid.). The report states that some gay groups believe there is a link between the killings of homosexuals and the increasing influx of illegal immigrants into Italy, especially those from Romania.

The Daily Telegraph reported a number of killings in Italy that had sparked rumours of a so-called "gay serial killer" (24 Jan. 1998). The August 1997 death of an openly-gay American professor, Louis Inturrisi, in Rome was connected with the death of Luzi (ibid.) Like Luzi, Inturrisi was also killed in his home and the circumstances of his death were similar to that of Luzi (ibid.; The Irish Times 11 Feb. 1998). The Daily Telegraph also reported the killings of Count Alvise di Robilant, Dante Livorno and Mario Chiarani, all "highly respectable semi-public figures."

On 28 January 1998, The Times reported that a 20-year-old man from Calabria was the victim of torture and attempted murder by the Mafia because he was gay. The victim had been tortured and left for dead by relatives of the 65-year-old man with whom the young man was having an alleged affair. The young man later went to the authorities to report the crime, but then went into hiding.

The March 1998 Action Alert summarizes IGLHRC's concerns in regard to "increased...surveillance and harassment of transsexuals, bisexuals, lesbians, and gay men in recent months." The report highlights Luzi's murder, the suicide of a gay man in St. Peter's Square, arrests of members of a transsexual, gay and lesbian group called Circolo di Cultura Omosessuale "Mario Mieli," and police raids of homosexual meeting places and discos. Please consult the attached IGLHRC Action Alert report for additional information.

In April 1998, Piero Nottiani, an art restorer, was the fourth case of a reported gay killing that year (The Gazette 3 Apr. 1998; The Times 3 Apr. 1998). According to the reports, Nottiani, who was also murdered in his home with a hard object to the head, probably knew his assailant. The gay community stated that Nottiani's death was the work of male prostitutes from Eastern Europe and not of a so-called "gay serial killer" (ibid.).

In The Irish Times, Franco Frillini, president of Arcigay, is quoted as saying that up to 200 gay killings go unreported annually (11 Feb. 1998; also see DPA 4 Mar. 1998). However, according to the Sunday Telegraph, Luzi's death in early January brought the reported toll of gay killings to 21 in the last seven years.

For information on the gay and lesbian groups, magazines, bars and clubs in Italy, please consult the attached documents taken from the Internet.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Action Alert [San Francisco]. March 1998. "Rome Authorities Restrict Basic Liberties of Transsexuals, Bisexuals, Lesbians, and Gays." [Internet] world/westeurope/Italy1998Mar.html [Accessed 1 Feb. 1999]

Agence France Presse (AFP). 13 July 1998. "Vatican Renews Attack on Italy's First Gay Marriage." (NEXIS)

The Buffalo News. 24 October 1998. "Pope Speaks Out Against Non-Marital Unions." (NEXIS)

The Daily Telegraph. 24 January 1998. Bruce Johnston. "Savage Killings of Civilised Men: A Murder Spree in Italy Is Being Blamed on a Gay Serial Killer." (NEXIS)

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA). 4 March 1998. Nicholas Rigillo. "Following Spate of Murders, Italian Gays Declare State of Emergency." (NEXIS)

The Gazette [Montreal]. 3 April 1998. Bruce Johnston. "Italian Gay Community Wary After Fourth Killing." (NEXIS)

The Irish Times. 11 February 1998. Paddy Agnew. "Gay Killings Raise Spectre of Homophobic, Macho Society." (NEXIS)

Newsweek. 23 November 1998. Carla Power. "Now It's the Gay Nineties." (NEXIS)

Sunday Telegraph. 11 January 1998. "Like so many people in Italy's jaded capital, Enrico Sini Luzi led a double life..." (NEXIS)

The Times. 3 April 1998. Richard Owen. "Fear Over Gay Serial Killer Revived in Italy." (NEXIS)

_____. 28 January 1998. Richard Owen. "Gay Man Tortured by Mafia." (NEXIS)


Action Alert [San Francisco]. March 1998. "Rome Authorities Restrict Basic Liberties of Transsexuals, Bisexuals, Lesbians, and Gays." [Internet] world/westeurope/Italy1998Mar.html [Accessed 1 Feb. 1999]

Ambush Inc. 1998. "About the Local Scene." [Internet] country/italy.htm [Accessed 2 Feb. 1999]

Yahoo. 1999. "Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals." [Internet] Regional/Countries/I...nd_Culture/Lesbians_Gays_and_Bisexuals/ [Accessed 2 Feb. 1999]