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Italian Newspaper Prompts Backlash After Overtly ‘Homophobic’ Headline

Image via Libero newspaper

Italian newspaper Libero is coming under fire after printing a homophobic headline suggesting gay people were responsible for the country’s economic downturn.

Despite the backlash from the LGBTQ community, the paper’s editors are standing by the story.

However, Italian lawmakers are now considering pulling public funding from the publication.

The headline, which appeared on the front page of the paper Wednesday, read:

Not much to be happy about. Revenue and GDP down, but gay people increase.”

 

According to the paper, the article was based on recently published data on LGBT+ people from the UK’s Office for National Statistics which showed a percentage increase in the number of adults who identify as homosexual in the UK.

However there was no data showing a similar increase in the Italian population and many are questioning the paper’s correlation between the economy and the gay population.

“Three in four entrepreneurs avoid electronic receipts and the economy suffers,” the article read.

“The only ones who do not feel the crisis are the homosexuals: they keep increasing.”

It continued:

“Is there a link between the decrease of GDP, the avoidance of electronic receipts and the rise in openly gay people? We don’t know, but that’s the snapshot. That too. It explains the Italy that changes and the one that does not.”

The paper is now facing backlash from the LGBTQ community and Italian Lawmakers.

In a statement Vito Crimi, a member of Italy’s Five Star Movement party voiced his “disgust” over the headline and announced plans to cut Libero’s public funding over the next three years.

“I will immediately start an internal procedure to explore the possibility of blocking the disbursement of the residual funds due to a newspaper that offends the dignity of all Italians and hurts democracy.” 

Italy’s deputy premier Luigi Di Maio issued a similar statement on Facebook, saying Libero “will write these idiocies without a euro of public funds.”

Libero is claiming the headline was misunderstood.

In a TV interview on Wednesday Libero‘s news editor Pietro Senaldi defended the headline, claiming that the rise increase of the gay population was being presented as good news in contrast to the economic decline.

Host Myrta Merlino pointed out however that the start of the headline ”Not much to be happy about” contradicted Senaldi’s claim.

Although many were outraged by the headline the country has a long history of anti LGBTQ sentiment. 

In December the Italian government halted the distribution of a University poll researching homophobia, racism and sexism because it was “promoting sexual fluidity.”

Although Italy passed legislation in 2016 allowing for gay unions the country was ranked as one of the worst in Western Europe for its protection of gay rights in a 2017 Rainbow Europe report.

Overall Italy received a score of just 27% because of its policies towards hate crime and hate speech, equality and non-discrimination and LGBTQ family rights.

Bad headline, good news.

Regardless of the homophobic sentiment in the headline Fashion designer and LGBT advocate Bruno Tommassini says there is still good news within it.

“The good news is that gay people increase because it is easier for us to be out. Society progresses despite economic problems.”

Let’s hope that continues to ring true.

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Written by Dennis Matthew Livesey

Matt is a writer, designer, and native New Yorker. He has worked in film, where he enjoyed a brief career as a stand-in for Ian Holm; finance, where he pretended to understand his job, and real estate, where nothing remarkable happened. He writes about science, technology, and media. His work includes magazine articles, one published book, and the looming inevitability of the second.