Italy's politicians condemn attack on gay men in Rome metro station

Rome homophobic attack prompts push for Italy hate crime law.

A recent assault on two men kissing in a Rome train station has prompted calls for Italy to push through a bill outlawing hate crimes against members of the LGBTQ community, women and people with disabilities.

Video footage of the homophobic attack, which took place at Valle Aurelia station on 26 February but has only just come to light, was shared by the Gaynews and Gaynet Roma associations and was shown on Italian television.

In the clip the aggressor is seen approaching the two men, one of whom reacts by asking him: "What's your problem? Who are you?".

The man, who ran across two sets of train tracks to start the fight, continues to swing punches and kicks, asking the couple: "Are you not ashamed of yourselves?"

"We condemn with dismay the attack suffered by Jean Pierre Moreno, refugee and member of the association...which we are following thanks to the legal support of the Lenford Network," stated Gaynet Roma, which said it hopes that "everything possible will be done to identify the aggressor."

The attack has also been widely condemned by politicians including Italy's minister for family and equal opportunities Elena Bonetti who expressed her solidarity with the couple attacked.

"Scenes like this, violence, discrimination, offend us all" - she wrote on Facebook - "They humiliate our conscience as a country. And we must repudiate them, no ifs or buts."

Rome mayor Virginia Raggi of the populist Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S) described the assault as an “intolerable offence against all our community," while Giorgia Meloni, leader of the far-right Fratelli d'Italia (FdI) said she was "shocked" by the "absurd and brutal violence," adding that she hoped that the "person responsible for the cowardly violence will pay."

Lazio governor Nicola Zingaretti of the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD) wrote on Facebook: “Two young men beaten up for a kiss. It seems incredible but it happened to a gay couple in Rome."

Zingaretti called for the immediate passing of the so-called Zan law against homophobia, adding that “it's time for a country more just for everyone.”

The proposed anti-discrimination law, which aims to protect the LGBTQ community, women and people with disabilities from hate attacks, was passed in Italy's lower house of parliament in November but requires final approval from the upper house. A conviction under the new law would carry a potential prison sentence of 18 months.

Alessandro Zan, the politician and LGBT activist who promoted the bill, describes it as a “big step forward against discrimination, hatred and violence."

The right-wing Lega, led by Matteo Salvini, has opposed the legislation, with the party's representatives in the parliament and senate stating:

"Do not exploit vile acts of aggression like today's for political ends. Any type of violence and any homophobic episode must be strongly condemned and our penal code already provides for adequate sentences and sanctions for those who commit similar horrible acts."