Attack on kissing men fuels push for Italy hate crime law

A recent attack in a Rome train station on two men who were kissing is fueling calls in Italy for quick passage of bill outlawing hate crimes against members of the LGBTQ community, women and people with disabilities

ROME -- A recent attack in a Rome train station on two men who were kissing fueled calls by Italian political leaders Sunday for quick passage of a hate crimes law to protect members of the LGBTQ community, women and people with disabilities.

Italian TV on Sunday aired what it said was video footage of the attack, which occurred on the platform at a local train station in late February. In the video, a man can be seen swinging at two young men. One of the pair is seen trying to fend off the blows, and the attacker keeps swinging at him.

One of the men who was attacked suffered an eye injury, Italian news agency LaPresse reported.

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi and the area’s governor, Nicola Zingaretti, were among the officials denouncing the attack. Raggi, who is from the populist 5-Star Movement, tweeted that the attack was an “intolerable offense against all our community.”

Wrote Lazio Gov. Zingaretti, a Democrat, on Facebook: “Two young men beaten up for a kiss. Seems incredible but it happened to a gay couple” in Rome.

Zingaretti added that it was “time right now for the law against homophobia" and that “it's time for a country more just for everyone.”

The proposed law aims to protect the LGBTQ community, women and people with disabilities from hate attacks. A conviction under the law carries a potential prison sentence of 18 months, as the bill is currently drafted.

After passage in the Italian Parliament’s lower chamber in November, the bill has been awaiting scheduling for debate in the Senate. The right-wing party League led by Matteo Salvini has opposed the legislation.

Among those expressing dismay at the train station attack was Salvini's far-right ally, Giorgia Meloni, who heads the Brothers of Italy party.

“I remain shocked in the face of this absurd and brutal violence in Rome at the expense of a young man who, as the press has presented it, was supposedly attacked only because he was kissing his companion,," said Meloni, who posted the video on Facebook.

She demanded that the alleged attacker pay for his crime, adding: “These images are unworthy of a civilized country.”

The legislation also would allocate funding for centers which fight discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and help cover legal, health and psychological expenses.