A print campaign in Italy, advocating against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, has inevitably evoked mixed resposnes. A poster shows a newborn baby with an identity bracelet showing the word, “Homosexuel”, French for homosexual. The accompanying text is “l’orientamento sessuale non è una scelta”, translated in English as “sexual orientation is not a choice”.
The poster is promoting READY, a two day conference run by a network of Italian municipalities, provinces and regions opposed to discrimination, held as part of the Festival of Creativity in Tuscany. The campaign is being supported by Italy’s equal opportunities ministry.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, is being quoted in the media for his opposition to the campaign. “Doing a publicity campaign like this is not a good idea. This is a bit strange. They shouldn’t have gone that far,” he said. The Catholic Church’s view of homosexuality is that homosexual orientation is not a sin itself, more like a psychological disorder. Homosexual acts are considered sinful.
The Tuscan initiative has been praised by gay rights associations. Arcigay said that the rest of Italy should follow the example of Tuscany, which was “at the forefront of efforts to guarantee the rights of gays, lesbians and transsexuals”.
The campaign has been condemned by the centre-right opposition in Italy. The Forza Italia party of opposition leader Silvio Berlusconi said Tuscany was trying to push a model of society in which sexual uncertainty prevailed. The Catholic UDC party called the print and outdoor campaign a “chilling” exploitation of a baby to push the “erroneous” message that homosexuality was innate. Northern League MP Massimo Polledri said the planned posters using the photo would be in “bad taste” and demanded that the Tuscan region not plaster them around its territory.
Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo, who is openly gay, criticised the publicity campaign on scientific grounds, saying he doubted that homosexuality could be explained away by genes. “The initiative is in bad taste, in fact they’ve made a mess of it,” he said in comments reported by the Corriere della Sera daily earlier this week.