Love is love – Venice Pride 2014

According to Article 3 of the Italian constitution “All citizens have equal social dignity and are equal before the law, without distinction of sex, race, language, religion, political opinions, personal and social conditions.” And yet to love who you love if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual in Italy is still largely socially unacceptable and a taboo for many people.

Love is love

Love is love

The Italian lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and intersex (LGBTQI) movement (their own definition) has grown and matured against this background, celebrating 20 years of Pride this year with 13 parades throughout the peninsula. Starting in Rome on June 7th 2014 and finishing on July 19th in Reggio Calabria Italians across the land took to the streets. And on June 28, International Gay Pride Day, parades took place simultaneously in Alghero, Bologna, Catania, Lecce, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Perugia, Turin and Venice to highlight the issues which still exist and to assert the right for all to love whomever they choose without discrimination or persecution.

Venice Pride - No fish out of water

Venice Pride – No fish out of water

For Venice and Venetians the Pride Parade was an opportunity to celebrate, campaign and call for equality as LGBTQI groups and their supporters gathered together from around the city, Veneto region and beyond in front of Santa Lucia Station.

Pride preparations

Arrivals

Parading this year were numerous LGBTQI groups, support organisations for their families, secular groups, student groups and human rights campaigner Amnesty International.

Parmigiano!

Whoever you prefer, be happy!

Ladies in red

Ladies in red – homosexual or heterosexual, makes no difference

Pink ladies

The pink ladies

Venice could be argued to be one of the more progressive cities with its Comune, or Town Hall, publicly standing against homophobia and transphobia and flying a prominent banner in support of International Day on May 17th. The banner was up in the run up to Venice Pride in June too, but there is still work to do.

Venice takes pride

Venice condemns homophobia

Despite what the Italian constitution says and progress by several of its European neighbours recently, marriage, or even civil partnership, between same-sex partners is not yet legal in Italy and neither is the adoption of children. Even registering a same-sex civil partnership or marriage that took place legally in another country proves problematic although a few Italian mayors have recently agreed to recognize and register foreign marriages unilaterally.

His and his

His and his

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Come out!

The problem isn’t just a political one though. The Catholic Church has long denounced LGBTQI individuals, refusing to accept them into congregations or the clergy. Recently Pope Francesco has been a little more conciliatory speaking out for love rather than hatred but he has stopped short of saying that LGBTQI people should be welcomed into the church. It is a start.

Cam

“Homosexuality is normal, homophobia is a sickness”

As the afternoon cooled gently in Venice, the parade began to take shape on the concourse in front of the station. Tourists & locals mingled, curious about what was going on. And the media were out in force too interviewing and photographing campaigners.

Ready for action

Ready for action

Strike a pose

Strike a pose

Speaking up

Speaking up

The local police were also out in number, but not force, and largely kept their distance.

'Allo, allo, allo!

‘Allo, allo, allo!

Finally around 5pm the parade set off through the Canareggio streets to Campo San Polo, north of the Rialto bridge.

Students pride

Students unite

Against homophobia

Stonewall in frocessione!*

The event was an opportunity to express difference and claim equal rights, visibility, secularism in education and the right to self-determination. And it was clear that the media and social media was being used to create positive perceptions of LGBTQI people, their needs and requests in order to stimulate a culture that values differences, relationships and discussion.

"I don't understand those who would rather see two men with rifles than two men holding hands"

“I don’t understand why today’s society prefers to see two men with rifles rather than two men holding hands”

Calling on the Prime Minister to act

Calling on the Prime Minister to act

As the parade wound its way through the narrow streets and alleys it struck me how political it felt as opposed to other Pride marches that I’ve watched, especially over the last 20 years in my hometown of Manchester in the UK.

Through narrow streets and alleyways

Winding through narrow streets and alleyways

Overall, the Venetian parade felt much more like a demonstration, albeit it a good natured one, calling for rather than celebrating diversity and the provision of equal rights. It served as a reminder that Italy still has a way to go before all its citizens have equal human rights in practice not just in principle. It was another bold step towards the equality that everyone deserves. And who knows, with Pope Francesco in an inclusive mood and some of Italy’s political parties siddling up to the LGBTQI community in an effort to garner votes in the next general election, maybe next year there might be more to celebrate. Speriamo! Lets hope eh!

Born this way

Born this way

Love is love

Love is love

Useful Information

Venice pride websitewww.veneziapride.it

Stonewall websitewww.stonewall.org.uk

Gay hotels & bars in Venice – www.gayvenice.com

Italian Police – Call 112 in the event of abuse

More photos at www.facebook.com/dreamdiscoveritalia

*Note : frocessione = a play on words, from the Italian slang word “froccio”, meaning gay.

Love is love

Love is love

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3 Responses to Love is love – Venice Pride 2014

  1. suggs69 says:

    I understand the LGBT but what’s the questioning and intersex bit mean?

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