Repressive Tolerance: The Gay Movement and the Vatican in Rome
The World Gay Pride week convened in Rome in July 2000 at the same time the Catholic Church planned on celebrating its Holy Year Jubilee. Thousands of gays came together, and by the end of the week more than 200,000 marched through the streets of Rome's historical centre. This unique event provides an opportunity to examine the causal relationship of the gay movement acquiring a political identity of its own while the city of Rome was trying to assert a `proper' identity for its public spaces. Acting in solidarity for the first time since its formation, the gay movement drew attention to the difficulties in securing unrestricted access to Rome's public spaces. Conservative sectors of society challenged the right to demonstrate, as guaranteed in Italy's Constitution, which resulted in the delay of obtaining the necessary permit. On the one hand, this revealed the existence of sectors of society not yet willing to acknowledge gay rights or even discuss gay issues in public; on the other, it helped make clear that the process for building Rome's identity is governed by a specific political design. In particular, policies for the privatisation of urban space in conjunction with discriminatory planning processes in the city's historical centre, point to tourism as a powerful tool to control urban space. Resisting this spatial marginalization the gay movement has significantly widened the scope of its social and political action in order to contest prevailing practices and trends which are shaping the city.
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Mudu, Pierpaolo, "Repressive Tolerance: The Gay Movement and the Vatican in Rome" (2002). Urban Studies Publications. 122.