Sicily Elects Catholic Gay Man as Governor

A gay Catholic man was recently elected governor of Italy’s island province of Sicily.  Yet his election may not signal new possibilities for LGBT-friendly initiatives.

Rosario Crocetta

Rosario Crocetta, the new governor, who was a candidate of the Democratic and Catholic Union of Christian and Centre Democrats parties, has not been known for advocating for LGBT equality in Italy.

Yet, Crocetta’s reluctance to work for gay rights is not the only reason that LGBT issues will not be on his agenda.  According to The Guardian, the coalition of parties that elected him

“. . .is also likely to limit pro-gay political initiatives in the region. Crocetta’s inability to act on social rights will be compounded by the lack of power given to governors under Italian legislation.

“‘Lacking nationwide legislation, single regions cannot act independently [against] homophobic behaviours and to grant same-sex unions. Isolated initiatives approved in Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany and Umbria (central and northern Italy) have not positively affected daily lives of gays and lesbians, who still face social and legislative discrimination,’ says gay activist Stefano Bucaioni.”

Still his election was praised by one of the leading gay rights activists in Italy:

” ‘This is very important as a message for the Italian LGTB community,’ said Andrea Maccarrone, president of the Rome-based gay rights group Mario Mieli.

” ‘Citizens appreciate when politicians are open and honest with them, including about their private lives,’ he added in an interview. ‘Being gay is no longer seen as a problem that stops them being good representatives of the people.’ “

That Crocetta’s orientation was not a factor in the election signals for him and others that attitudes in pre-dominantly Catholic Italy are changing.
While Italy is one of the few nations in the European Union that do not offer some sort of relationship-recognition in law, according to Maccarone Italians are becoming more and more accepting of LGBT people:

“Acceptance of homosexuality is evolving faster in public opinion than among politicians, he adds.

“The influence of the Vatican and the sway small conservative groups can hold over the balance of power in the country’s fractious political landscape have helped obstruct reform.

“But even in the conservative south, public attitudes are more open than outsiders believe, Maccarrone says. He points to the vibrant gay community in his own hometown, the Sicilian city of Catania.

” ‘It’s very open to gays,’ he says. ‘You can see openly gay people in the streets, sometimes holding hands, it’s not a big issue. Of course I’m not saying there’s no homophobia, no violence, but in the south, like in all of Italian society, the people are more open than politicians.’ “

Crocetta himself believes there is a lot more openness to gay people in Sicily than the island is given credit for. Another Guardian article on his election stated:

“Crocetta, a devoted Catholic, has long claimed that southern Italy is surprisingly relaxed about gay politicians, once stating,       ” ‘There is a great respect for the individual, making it less homophobic than the north.’

“In August he told an interviewer, ‘After leaving prison in England, Oscar Wilde took refuge in Palermo. Seen like this, there is lot people have to learn about the south.’ “

The fact that a centrist Catholic party helped to elect Crocetta is commendable.

The fact that this same party is unlikely to work for LGBT equality shows that there is still much work to be done.  According to Gay Star News:

“Once in power, Crocetta may not be able to do much for LGBT rights however. He won the election leading a coalition with the Union of Christian Democrats, a centrist party very close to the Catholic Church.”

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

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