Gay actvists at an anti gay march will be charged for disturbing the peace after staging a spontaneous kiss-in protest.
Six LGBTI rights activists have been charged with disturbing the peace because they kissed at an anti-gay protest in March.
The public prosecutor’s office notified the six of the charges earlier this month.
The three men and three women held a spontaneous, uncoordinated protest against an anti-gay group Sentinelle in Piedi, Standing Sentries, in Perugia, central Italy.
The Sentinelle stage demonstrations against gay marriage and efforts to extend hate crime protections to LGBTI people. Members stand silently in plazas, holding books or praying.
Two of the activists are members of LGBTI rights group Omphalos and four belong to Bella Queer. All six are accused of disturbing the peace and four are also accused of holding an unlawful demonstration.
‘The charges would be laughable if they didn’t reflect exactly the anti-gay sentiment the activists are fighting against,' said Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch.
‘The public prosecutor should withdraw these charges immediately.’
The prosecutor acted on a police report that accused two of the men of engaging in ‘a long and passionate kiss on the mouth… in front of many families with children and adolescents many of whom are minors, leaving passersby disgusted by such a demonstration.’
The report included a description of the protesters’ clothing - colorful shirts and a feather boa - and said one of the activists made noise with a small tambourine.
‘Gay men and lesbian women kissing in public is not a crime,’ Sunderland said.
‘The activists’ actions are clearly protected by their right to peaceful protest.’
Earlier this month, the Sentinelle held prayer vigils in cities across Italy. Scuffles broke out between Sentinelle and counter-protesters in Trento, Torino, Naples, and Bologna.
In Venice, military police registered the identities of two men who kissed each other in the plaza, threatening to charge them with holding an unlawful demonstration.
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