Italian wedding planner pushes buttons by marrying gay couples
Gay marriage isn’t legal in Italy, but Simona Tolisano recognizes the rising demand for same-sex weddings and honeymoons in the country of romance
‘We don’t care who you’re in love with.’
The new website Italy Gay Wedding wants to help you celebrate your love, but in a country where the legal celebration of that love is prohibited, how does it work?
Though Italy has long-been a favorite destination for romance, particularly weddings and honeymoons, the homo- and transphobic attacks that continue to occur within state borders mean Italy repeatedly ranks low with human rights organizations like Amnesty International.
This doesn’t stop Italy’s LGBTI community from flourishing, and it definitely doesn’t keep LGBTI travelers from including Italy into their travel vision boards.
The tide is changing in Italy. Pope Francis, the religious leaders of the heavily Catholic country, has rocked the world with pro-gay statements, urging priests and laypeople alike to reconsider their anti-gay attitudes on the basis of their faith.
The government is changing as well. On 10 April, an Italian court ruled the marriage between two Italians in New York, where gay marriage has been legal since 2011, should also be recognized at home.
With same-sex marriage taking so many headlines around the world, the founder of Gay Marriage Italy Simona Tolisano is poised to offer a service few others are willing to undertake: Gay weddings in Italy.
‘I’ve contacted some gay-friendly organizations here in Italy to support my project Gay Marriage Italy. They congratulated me for supporting gay rights,’ Tolisano told Gay Star News.
Through her website, Tolisano helps local and foreign couples to plan their special day in Italy. She helps with everything from venue finding to services like catering, photography and video.
Gay Marriage Italy, being based in the country, also has an intimate knowledge of the most beautiful and romantic places to book a wedding. From the rolling hillsides of Tuscany to the Lake District in Northern Italy, Tolisano is excited to work with gay and lesbian couples to help them achieve their dreams.
When asked how she ensures the clients she works with are gay-friendly, Tolisano says a direct approach is best.
‘Gay marriage is still debated in Italy, so there is not an important website or any other source where you can find gay-friendly operators. To be sure that my supplier is gay-friendly I directly contact the owners of villas, castles and all the others.
‘I speak about what we do and I try to understand if they are really interested in working with us or if they have some prejudices. I want to be sure that all my client will be treated with respect. Most of the suppliers I have contacted have no problem to approach to gay marriage.’
These days more and more countries are offering romantic packages for same-sex couples, even if their government does not legally support same sex marriage.
Just this year a Toyko temple and a Milan hotel launched wedding and romance pacages for gay and lesbian couples, circumventing their government’s stance to offer a more inclusive experience for LGBTI travelers.
Because same-sex marriage is not legal in Italy, the ceremony is not legally binding but more of a symbolic event.
Yet the fact local business owners are opening their minds and doors to the local and foreign LGBTI community reflects a change in the intersection of business and diversity in Italy.