Being proud of what we are: this is the truest meaning of the various Gay Prides and therefore also of EuroPride, a moment of European visibility for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals, which takes place this year in Rome in June.
Being proud means being able to choose - with our heads held high - how to live our lives with awareness and in freedom, while recognising the same level of freedom for everyone else.
Fundamentally, the Pride celebrations declare this universal value and call on the institutions to provide the legal and behavioural framework that will permit the full development of this freedom in the key of equality.
And therefore also of secularism, that is, in the rejection of a single and binding morality, religious or otherwise.
But in the Prides this general value is developed starting from the experiences of different sexual orientations and gender identities, following the inalienable logic of self-determination. In other words, every choice or condition in life has to be free so long as it does not damage our neighbours, and, in this sense, have complete dignity and be able to be lived in society with the same fullness and possibility for development as anyone else. And this has be valid as regards homosexuality and transexuality.
Equality, dignity and secularism are values that permit the concrete realisation of that principle of freedom, and they are the basis for single claims of rights for GLBTQI individuals and couples and for families with homosexual or transsexual parents.
After all, a Pride is allowing an indispensable principle of civility to parade along the streets, in absolute visibility, joyful but determined, and placing it in that specificity of being gay, lesbian, transsexual, bisexual or queer. It is to be claimed proudly in front of the conscience, imagery and responsibility of everyone, individual citizens or institutions.
This lies at the heart of the political document as well as the cultural and social contents of a Pride, everywhere and for more than 40 years, since the times of the Stonewall rebellion. This is the essence of EuroPride Roma 2011.
Europe is a political and social space, plural, democratic, open and welcoming. But for as long as that concept is only a declaration of principle, it has to constantly transform itself into a recognition of rights, a welcome, respect and a culture of inclusion, against that egoism and being closed to diversity that is spreading once more.
Europe has to mean solidarity between peoples, tending towards a real political unity and not just an economic one, the construction of a society based on liberty, self-determination and rights.
We insist then on the full actuation of the fundamental principles and rights sanctioned by the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and the various treaties, starting with the free movement of citizens in Europe and the recognition of rights from states of origin, including those of the defence of couples of the same sex.
All this is the starting point for the various themes and demands of EuroPride Roma 2011. It has to be underlined that in Italy, unlike the majority of European countries, there are no specific norms or policies regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, with rare and fragmentary exceptions.
Such an absence of attention and rights on GLBTQI issues places Italy dramatically outside of Europe, making a EuroPride in Rome particularly valuable.
Homosexuals and transsexuals are and always expect to be recognised as active and reactive members of society, refusing both a marginal role and that of victims; consequently we condemn and reject prejudice, homophobia and transphobia both as a mental attitude and as acts of violence, and we ask for interventions to oppose these.
And these interventions should not only be in terms of criminal laws providing a degree of security, almost as if offering protection to a vulnerable group or as if public-order problems were the only parameter of real civil cohabitation; but what is indispensable is a collective social and cultural stirring of consciences, to be carried out at various levels and unceasingly, on the part of everyone in a country, starting from the political and institutional players. In Italy the absence of either solution is noticeable.
The happy and constructive prospect of a society capable of fighting homophobia and transphobia, along with racism and other forms of hatred or discrimination, involves recognising and exploiting the wealth of diversity. In this sense, a EuroPride celebrates diversity in every way and cannot be but antiracist. In the same way it is non-violent and antifascist, just as it is opposed to every system of oppression or debasement of the dignity of each person.
And, obviously, it is antisexist, condemning each and every form of chauvinist and patriarchal behaviour present in society that trample on the dignity of women, deny them effective equality or, worse, encourage acts of violence against them.
Homosexuality and transexuality are based on the principle that there does not exist only one way of loving or type of sexuality, and in the same way there is no gender that should be forced to smother its deepest feelings; therefore all the various forms of diverse affectivity and sexual choices, such as those regarding gender, have to be liberated and claimed, placing them on the same footing as the more usual, but not for this reason univocal, choices of heterosexuality and the traditional family, or of the sense of belonging to one’s birth gender.
What needs to be emphasised therefore is the worth of homosexual couples and families with children raised by homosexual or transsexual parents, asking urgently for laws that recognise them in line with a principle of equality and with a variety of norms for couples whether common-law or married. In Italy there is nothing; in Europe there exists a variety of laws. This gap is unacceptable and antihistorical.
In the same way we ask that individuals be free to determine the gender in whichthey feel most comfortable, without being considered bearers of a mental illness any more that has be cured with a sex change.
We ask therefore for changes to the to permit transsexuals to construct their own identity and to be legally recognised on the basis of their chosen gender, without necessarily have to undergo a sex-change operation; and those instead who wish to pursue the whole process of transformation should be assisted by the health service without having to go through the complex and humiliating process of being diagnosed as having a pathological problem. In this spirit EuroPride Roma supports the international campaign “Stop 2012” for the depathologisation of transexuality.
Gays, lesbians and transsexuals often have children who grow up happily with in so-called non-traditional families. Parenthood is a choice and the capacity not just to have children, which in itself can only be obstructed by sterility and not by sexual orientation, but, above all, to raise children well and take care of them.
Gays, lesbians and transsexuals know how to do this and do it, because these are human capacities; for example, in Italy at least 100,000 children or adolescents live in families with homosexual or transsexual parents. It is necessary to fight any and every sort of prejudice that might affect these children and introduce laws that give them the same equality of rights as children growing up in heterosexual families.
What’s more in Italy, because of a normative choices not dictated by real needs and freely made life aspirations, but by non-secular conditioning, a law is in force on artificial insemination that needs to be reformed insofar as it is discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional, as well as being ideologically motivated and oppressive.
GLBTQI people continue to suffer discrimination in the workplace, particularly so transsexuals, for whom prostitution often remains the only possibility.
It is necessary to remove the mechanisms of exclusion or marginalisation in the world of employment that work against homosexuals and transsexuals, especially in this historic period of economic crisis and a general shrinking of the welfare system, which aggravates the difficulties of the weakest social subjects, such as GLBTQI people, but also women, the young and immigrants.
What’s more the application of welfare in a family-orientated way, concentrating on traditional heterosexual families, tends to forget about the individual and their just-as-urgent needs, including the construction of diverse affective nuclei.
EuroPride Roma 2011 looks out with indignation and pain at those situations in the world, too often forgotten, where homosexuals and transsexuals are discriminated against, tortured, incarcerated, murdered or at daily risk of the death penalty; we also remember the particular difficulties of GLBTQI people in many countries of Eastern Europe.
We therefore reaffirm the duty of welcoming and caring for those who flee their own country to escape persecution and danger, and we strongly support the worldwide campaign for the decriminalisation of homosexuality, presented at the UN by the European Union, asking for its speedy and urgent approval.
EuroPride reaffirms the fundamental role of the European Parliament in the advancement and establishment of civil rights. For this reason, we raise a serious concern over the difficulties being encountered in the drawing up of the European Directive on horizontal discrimination, which is being blocked for racial reasons but also because of religious meddling on the part of the Vatican and the Orthodox Churches, who wish to thwart, above all, the sexual freedoms.
We condemn therefore the reactionary impetus that, not only in Italy but also at European level, seeks to apply the brakes to the struggle against discrimination and we condemn the liberticidal and nationalist comeback. Nobody can lower their guard when faced with the possible involutions and conservative reaction, even those who live in countries that are advanced in terms of civil rights.
We ask the European Parliament to have a burst of pride itself: a full culture of respect for and recognition of the other is the best response to the spread of racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic behaviour.
EuroPride Roma 2011 is therefore a powerful affirmation of values, requests and expectations, not just as condemnations and demands, but also, and above all, from the perspective of a better future and happiness in living with expectations.
An extraordinary occasion, not only for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals to take to the streets, but also for those heterosexuals who know that their lives too will enjoy greater liberty and protection, if everyone’s do.