(Photo Credits: Screengrab from Gaynet Roma’s Official Facebook Account)
A video footage of a gay couple getting attacked in a Rome train station just moments after they kissed is currently making the rounds on the internet. This prompted calls by a number of Italian politicians for quick passage of hate crimes law in the country that would criminalize attacks on the members of the LGBTQ community as well as on women and people with disabilities.
The footage of the aforementioned attack went viral on social media after it was shown on Italian TV on Sunday though the incident itself reportedly took place in February 26 at the Valle Aurelia train station. The footage, said to be a cellphone video taken by a bystander, captured the attacker launching a barrage of punches at the couple. According to LaPresse, an Italian news agency, one of the victims suffered an eye injury. Watch the incident unfold below:
One of the victims, identified as local LGBTQ activist Jean Pierre Moreno, disclosed what happened to GayNews in an interview. He said, “We were waiting for the last train to go home. While I was kissing my partner, we suddenly heard a man scream from the platform opposite: ‘What are you doing? Aren’t you ashamed?’”
Moreno added, “After replying: ‘But what do you care?’ and having resumed kissing with my partner, the guy crossed the tracks and joined us, first striking my partner in the eye. Frightened, he tried to take me away and then fled. But I stayed there, not being afraid to face him and continuing to ask him what problems he was having.”
Rome’s Mayor, Virginia Raggi, was one of those who denounced the attack. She tweeted: “All forms of discrimination and violence must be strongly condemned. Episodes like this represent an intolerable offense to our entire community.”
Lazio Governor Nicola Zingaretti on the other hand, posted on Facebook: “Two young men beaten up for a kiss. Seems incredible but it happened to a gay couple in Rome.” Further, Zingaretti said that it was “time right now for the law against homophobia” and that “it’s time for a country more just for everyone.”
Meanwhile, Giorgia Meloni—an Italian journalist and politician who is the leader of Brothers of Italy party—said, “I remain shocked in the face of this absurd and brutal violence in Rome at the expense of a young man who, as the press has presented it, was supposedly attacked only because he was kissing his companion.” Melonia also said that the alleged attacker must pay for his crime, adding: “These images are unworthy of a civilized country.”
Currently, a hate crime bill in Italy is awaiting schedule for debate in the Senate. If passed into law, violators could face a maximum of 18 months in prison. Moreover, the “legislation also would allocate funding for centers which fight discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and help cover legal, health and psychological expenses,” ABC News reports.