Italian gossip magazine embroiled in scandal over gay joke book
An Italian tabloid magazine has caused outrage after deciding to publish a free gay joke book in its latest issue.
The weekly gossip magazine - Visto - published the Best Gay Jokes Book in its latest issue, its cover depicting a cartoon of two men one of whom says “Do you want to play hide and seek?” to which the other replies: “Ok, if you find me you can rape me. If you don’t find me…I’ll be in the closet.”
The joke book, which was initially published in 2012, forms part of a wider series of offensive joke books which include sexist and racist material.
Since Vista hit newsstands, two petitions have been launched by Change.org calling for the magazine to remove the offending material.
The magazine's editor Robert Alessi alleges he knew nothing about the book and has since distanced himself from the scandal.
"It's disgusting, it has nothing to do with editorial staff," he said.
"The book perpetuates prejudices and stereotypes that take Italy back to a time when gays and lesbians were forced to hide or were subjected to violence and mockery, casting dangerous messages, especially for young people in a country that is still struggling to develop a national strategy for the fight against homophobia and transphobia.”
However Federico Silvestri, the general manager of PRS who publishes the magazine, has offered no apology for the distribution of the content, defending his right to publish whatever he sees fit.
“I defend and lay claim to the decision to attach joke books on various subjects in Visto, which include those on gay people, which is no longer a taboo subject,” he said.