Home Arts Artists take on Italy’s attack on gay parents’ rights

Artists take on Italy’s attack on gay parents’ rights

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Street art in Italy championing LGBTQ+ rights has sparked controversy as the country’s far-right government has appeared to crack down on same-sex parents in recent months. Right-wing commentators and politicians called the works “shameful” and “evil”. A fiercely contested mural in the seaside town of Rimini has been whitewashed in an apparent act of protest.

The mural by transgender street artist Oliver Vincenzi, which showed a bearded man feeding a child with an exposed breast, was part of a larger local mural project supported by the leftist mayor of Rimini. It was mysteriously removed on the night of April 3.

In another work, artist Andrea Villa pasted posters showing the Riace Bronzes, two exceptionally well-preserved 5th-century BC statues rediscovered in Calabria in 1972, along a busy Turin street in March. The posters showed the two naked male figures from behind, covered with the words “Italy is gay”.

“I wanted to portray the bronzes as gay icons because I think notions of homosexuality in the classical world are inspiring,” Villa said. The arts journal. “Today, homosexuals are portrayed as weak and effeminate. In ancient times – when being gay was acceptable only in the aristocracy – they were considered strong and manly.

Giorgia Meloni’s government has been accused in recent months of limiting the rights of LGBTQ+ people. The right-wing ruling coalition presented a bill in March extending the national ban on surrogacy to Italians traveling abroad for the practice, with fines of up to 1 million euros in violation, a measure considered by some to be aimed at homosexual parents. In Milan, long considered a haven for gay people in Italy, 10,000 people protested against the government’s position, before the Interior Ministry directly ordered the mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala, to stop issuing birth certificates to same-sex couples who have children through surrogacy.

Federico Mollicone, a deputy from Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, describe same-sex couples as “unauthorized” in Italy. Italian law does not allow same-sex marriage.

Street art has been dragged into the debate. Write about Facebook, the Brethren of Italy legislator Riccardo De Corato described Villa’s depiction of the Riace bronzes as “a shameful instrumentalization against the government”. Matteo Montevecchio, Emilia-Romagna adviser to Matteo Salvini’s right-wing League party, writing on Facebook that Vincenzi’s work is “a product of the worst kind of perverse transfeminist ideology”.

In a written exchange with The arts journalMontevecchio said Rimini Mayor Jamil Sadegholvaad did not say whether his administration had authorized the work.

Sadegholvaad, however, said in an interview that his administration did not directly fund the work but allowed Vincenzi to paint it. The mayor added that he had launched an investigation into who had whitewashed the mural, dismissing an apparent admission by Davide Fabbri, an eccentric self-proclaimed exorcist from Rimini, that he was responsible for the removal of the artwork. Sadegholvaad concluded that the protest backfired by sparking national interest. “The paradox is that trying to cover up this ‘scandalous’ mural has actually made it eternal,” he said.

Meanwhile in Venice, artist duo Petrit Halilaj and Álvaro Urbano also took on the Italian government’s anti-LGBTQ+ stance with a work unveiled in the desecrated church of San Lorenzo in April. The room, Lunar set for Uprising Seas, features 30 large-scale aluminum sculptures of fantastical hybrid creatures standing beneath an egg-shaped moon. Kosovo-born Halilaj said the installation is about “queer futures” and “plural solidarity”. Halilaj and Urbano are a couple professionally and personally, but generally work individually. He said, “As a couple coming here, and also [in relation to] Italy politically it was important to bring an egg made by two boys. There is room for everyone in society.

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