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Italy sports magazine faces backlash over gay rugby cover

Italy sports magazine faces backlash over gay rugby cover

'Giacomo and Stefano, partners in life and in Libera Rugby, amateur team in Rome.'

An Italian sports magazine has sparked outrage among readers after putting a gay rugby couple on its cover.

The cover of the 11 July edition of SportWeek features Giacomo and Stefano – teammates in life and in gay-friendly amateur Rome squad Libera Rugby – with the headline: ‘Who’s afraid of a kiss?’

Going by the backlash on social media, it would appear a lot of the magazine’s readers.

‘That’s disgusting,’ tweeted one fan.

‘You’re painfully conformist and ideological,’ wrote another.

The hate was balanced out with supportive comments, many seeing the cover as a positive challenge to the homophobia rampant in Italian sport.

‘I’m not afraid,’ wrote a Twitter user, ‘but many Italians are, and its fear and ignorance that create homophobia.’

The magazine contains features on ‘the last taboo’ in sports and Italy’s first gay-friendly rugby team, and comes at a time when LGBTI rights is picking up speed in the country.

Homosexuality, however, remains is a divisive issue in the Catholic-majority nation.

Italy is the only Western European country not to recognize either gay marriage or civil unions. And just last week, the mayor of Venice banned gay books in schools, and a 40-year-old man from Cerignola, Calabria took his life after enduring years of anti-gay abuse from his family.