Italian minister moved after slur

2013-05-04 18:07
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Rome - A junior member of Italy's new grand coalition government was given a new portfolio on Saturday, just two days after her appointment, after gay rights associations criticised statements she had made as homophobic.

In a statement, Prime Minister Enrico Letta said Michela Biancofiore would no longer serve as undersecretary for Equal Opportunities, Sport and Youth Policies, but would be given the Public Administration and Simplification portfolios.

Biancofiore, a member of Silvio Berlusconi's conservative People of Freedom party, had told a web interviewer in January: "There are not just heterosexuals, but also different sexualities, which today, unfortunately, are very common."

Franco Grillini, head of gay rights group Gaynet, complained that Biancofiore was "known for her statements against the rights of homosexual couples," and questioned the "logic" of asking her to "work for civil rights, including those of homosexuals".

Paola Concia, an openly gay former parliamentarian from the centre-left Democratic Party, quipped that putting Biancofiore in charge of Equal Opportunities was akin to "placing Cruella de Vil as the guardian of a Dalmatian puppy mill".

Biancofiore responded to her critics in several newspaper interviews published on Saturday. "I am not a homophobe. As a true liberal, I hate all kinds of discrimination," she told La Repubblica.

Speaking to Corriere della Sera, she insisted that using the word "unfortunately" to describe homosexuality was just "a turn of phrase".

She accused gay rights groups of being prejudiced against her, and urged them to look at wider societal problems. "They just defend their own partisan interests," Biancofiore said.
- SAPA
Read more on:    italy  |  gay rights
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