Anti-gay graffiti in Rome

Anti-gay graffiti has appeared outside Rome's Circolo di Cultura Omosessuale Mario Mieli, directed at Rossana Praitano, the centre’s former president and independent city councillor candidate backed by the Partito Democratico (PD) party.

The messages were sprayed outside the association's base on Via Efeso in the S. Paolo district during the night of 22 May, and read "Donne a casa a fare figli", "Praitano fatti curare", "Lesbiche al rogo", "Praitano lesbica da curare", and "Praitano no lesbiche in Campidoglio".

The gay activist has responded to the offensive graffiti by saying: "To whoever wants to hurt me I say it is a waste of time.'' She received support via Twitter from the two front runners in the upcoming mayoral elections, incumbent mayor Gianni Alemanno and his principal challenger Ignazio Marino.

Two nights earlier, the Socrates high school in Rome's Garbatella district was the subject of anti-gay messages for the second time in three months. The homophobic banner pasted outside the school was signed by the far-right youth movement Lotta Studentesca and extreme-right wing political party Forza Nuova.

The school had recently screened a video made by the students in conjunction with the Gay Center, in the nearby Piramide area, to encourage gay students to be at peace with their sexuality.

In February this year, the messages “Froci al rogo” and “Vi uccidiamo” appeared on the walls of the same high school. At the time, the threatening graffiti received widespread condemnation and was described by Elsa Fornero, who was then Italy's minister for labour, social policies and equal opportunities, as a "new shameful episode."

Meanwhile on 20 May two bouncers received a two-year prison sentence after they were convicted of an unprovoked attack on a gay customer at the Alpheus club in Testaccio in early 2009. The victim suffered a number of broken bones in the assault and was left permanently disfigured.