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Italy gay rights groups blast Lippi's remarks

Italy gay rights groups blast Lippi's remarks

Leading gay rights group rebuked national team coach Marcello Lippi on Wednesday for saying he'd never allow openly homosexual players to play for Italy because it would create scandal.
Lippi's remarks came amid a wave of anti-gay violence in Rome, including a violent attack against a gay couple, that has prompted new calls for an anti-discrimination law to better protect the rights of homosexuals.
Lippi was quoted on an Internet television program as saying a gay couple on the field would create "conflict" in football-mad Italy, where games and the lives of its top players are dissected in detail in national sports dailies and television talk shows.
"We're not talking about a cultural question, but of a mechanism of interests for whom a relation of this type would enter into conflict," Lippi told the KlausCondicio program. "Even if from a cultural perspective people would approve and be able to understand and accept such a situation, it would nevertheless be exploited so much that it would end up negatively."
Gay rights group Arcigay said Wednesday such comments only increase prejudice against homosexuals and are particularly damaging coming from someone such as Lippi, who is held in such high esteem by the young.
"We are tired of hearing politicians, singers and coaches who fuel... a climate that is by now poisoned by fear and suspicion," Arcigay said in a statement. "We don't want to be afraid any more, and we hope that people in the public eye will have the courage to affirm the dignity of everyone to live their own lives, their relations and loves in broad daylight."
Lippi's remarks came amid a spate of violence against gays in recent days that has convulsed the capital: Last week, a gay couple was attacked as they embraced, with one of the men suffering a head wound and another knifed in the abdomen. The attacker was arrested.
And on Tuesday night, vandals tried to torch a prominent gay disco while it was closed, breaking a window and throwing flammable liquid inside.
Mayor Gianni Alemanno has denounced the "grave" attacks and said that decisive action must be taken whenever such forms of intolerance occur.
Alemanno, a right-wing former neo-Fascist, has joined Arcigay and members of the center-left opposition in calling for anti-discrimination laws to help combat anti-gay violence.