Pompeii Pride took place on Sunday 30 June, marking the end of Pride month in Italy as well.
The ancient Roman city located near Naples, southern Italy, celebrated the LGBTI community with its first march. Local and national authorities led the walking groups past the popular Santuario della Beata Vergine del Rosario, a church attracting Catholic pilgrims from all over the country.
However, far-right political militants of Forza Nuova welcomed the parade standing just out front the church. Alongside Pompeii citizens, the group aimed to defend the ‘traditional family’ by reciting a prayer.
Despite ‘respecting those who are discriminated against’, Pompeii church reiterated in a statement: ‘There is no way to compare same-sex unions to marriages and families.’
Trova le differenze.
Sopra: una marea colorata chiede uguali diritti e pari dignità per tutti.
Sotto: un gruppetto di estremisti religiosi chiede al loro Dio di punire "gli sbagliati".
— Piange il Citofono (@DarioBallini) July 1, 2018
The Democratic Party spokesperson for Isola d’Elba in Tuscany Dario Ballini was at the march. He took to Twitter to post two pictures comparing the number of attendees at the parade and that of those praying outside the church.
‘Find the differences,’ reads the tweet of the openly gay politician.
He also wrote: ‘Above: a colorful tide asking for equality of rights and dignity. Below: a small group of religious extremists asking God to punish “those who are in the wrong”‘.
‘This [sic!] were the traditional families out front the Pompeii Sanctuary, holding rosaries during Pompeii Pride,’ wrote an user, referring to the strings of beads Catholics hold while praying.
Pompeii Pride is ‘the death of Christianity and civilization’
The local spokesperson for Forza Nuova Salvatore Pacella told Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano: ‘We’re witnessing a parade celebrating something which I’m not sure what it is.’
Furthermore, he added: ‘That would have been impossible just twenty years ago.’
Earlier this year, Forza Nuova, whose Facebook page also features anti-immigrants messages, had compared the Pride in Pompeii to the volcanic eruption that destroyed the city in AD 79. In a press release on their page, the parade is described as the ‘death of Christianity and civilization’.
‘We’ll take care of rainbow families’
This anti-LGBTI atmosphere echoes the feelings of newly appointed Minister for Families Lorenzo Fontana. In an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera in June, he declared ‘rainbow families do not exist’.
Democratic Party senator and author of the bill on civil partnerships Monica Cirinnà was at the parade in Pompeii.
While in Pompeii, she told Il Fatto Quotidiano: ‘Rainbow families do exist, regardless of what Fontana says. We’ll take care of them.’
Same-sex marriage and adoption are still illegal in Italy. Nonetheless, several couples were able to legally register their children to both parents last April in Turin, which became a trailblazer for other cities.