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毎日新聞 2007年5月13日 20時30分
Thousands rally in Rome against gay rights law
By Deepa Babington
Sat May 12, 11:09 AM ET
Tens of thousands of people gathered in Rome on Saturday for a rally to protest against a proposed law that would give greater rights to unmarried couples, including gays and lesbians.
The draft legislation, which requires parliamentary approval, has divided Italy's ruling coalition, angered the Catholic Church and roused passionate debate in the country.
Waving banners and dancing to the sound of tambourines, Catholic faithful kicked off the "Family Day" rally outside Rome's St. John in Lateran cathedral with a host of conservative politicians in attendance.
"From the rally comes a message today: to hold a dialogue to respond to the needs of the family, which is one of the principle priorities of the nation," said Public Education minister Giuseppe Fioroni, who came to the rally with his son.
"Today's rally is a large participation of the people that merits attention."
The rally's organizers, who handed out millions of flyers ahead of the event and plastered the city with posters, say as many as 250,000 people will attend.
Just a few neighborhoods away at Piazza Navona, hundreds of gay rights supporters held a smaller counter-demonstration. A third event on Saturday is a prayer vigil by gay Christians in defense of the rights of gay families.
Prime Minister Romano Prodi's government has sponsored the bill to give more rights to couples who are not married, or not allowed to marry, on practical matters like welfare and inheritance.
The Church has attacked it as an assault on family values and considers it a 'Trojan Horse' that could ultimately usher in civil marriage ceremonies for gays and lesbians.
Prodi urged Italians to recognize both the importance of family and the secular state.
"We must not manipulate religion," he told Italian radio. "In all modern countries, secularists and Catholics live together."
The rally highlighted divisions within Prodi's centre-left government, with various members of his Catholics-to-Communists coalition backing the "Family Day" rally or the "Secular Courage" counter-rally.
Some, like Family Affairs Minister Rosy Bindi said ministers should stay at home as a "matter of sobriety and correctness," but that did not stop fellow ministers like Justice Minister Clemente Mastella from attending the family values rally.
Italian Catholics stage giant rally against gay unions
by Andrea Bambino
Sat May 12, 4:36 PM ET
Hundreds of thousands of Italians, spurred by the Vatican and conservative politicians, flooded central Rome on Saturday to protest against a government plan to grant homosexual couples legal status.
The "Day of the Family" protest, staged by Roman Catholic and conservative groups, drew a million people in a carnival-like atmosphere with music, clowns and games for children, organisers said.
They gathered in front of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, the official ecclesiastical seat of the Pope as Bishop of Rome, arriving by train and on more than 3,000 buses specially hired for the occasion.
Gathered under a bright Italian sun, the demonstrators did not chant slogans but instead carefully listened to speeches by representatives of Catholic organisations, who addressed them from a podium in front of the building.
"We are here to defend the concept of a family based on a husband, a wife and children and not of husband-husband or wife-wife," said Lucia Basile, a 54-year-old mother of three.
"I do not want to condemn homosexuals but they cannot be portrayed as being normal. I do not want my son to think that it's normal to bring home a boy rather than a girl," said Basile, who is a member of a conservative church grouping.
Michele Morandi, a priest in his 30s, said he wanted "better policies to support the family as a couple with two children finds it very difficult to make ends meet."
The rally reflects mounting tensions in Roman Catholic-dominated Italy over the issue.
It has the backing of several leading conservative politicians, including former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who attended the gathering. "I am absolutely not opposed to protecting the rights of couple," he said.
"But, I don't think that it's necessary to establish... a second class marriage," he added.
About three kilometres (1.5 miles) away, several thousand people joined a counter-rally to defend secularism and the plan to grant homosexual couples legal status.
"All Families are Equal", "I'm Divorcing the Pope, I'm Marrying the DICO" (the title of the civil unions' plan), proclaimed protesters' banners at the counter-demonstration, called by the Radical Party.
"We want to show there is not one single Italy, but several. The law must accompany the evolution of feelings," said the party's founder Emma Bonino, who is the minister for foreign trade.
Prime Minister Romano Prodi's government proposed allowing civil unions, called DICO in Italy, in February. The planned law, which would also give unmarried heterosexual couples more rights, has met with strong opposition from conservatives and centre-left Catholics in parliament.
Several members of Prodi's own centre-left governing coalition were due to take part in the protest.
They include Paola Binetti, a senator and member of the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei who has been a prominent figure among left-wing Catholics.
Pope Benedict XVI, currently on a tour of Brazil, on Friday spoke out against hedonism and the "worrying disorientation" of society, with marriage and the family under attack. He also upheld the traditional values of fidelity in marriage and chastity for priests.
The annual number of marriages in Italy, an overwhelmingly Catholic country, fell from 419,000 in 1972 to 250,000 in 2005. The number of children born to unwed parents has doubled in 10 years.
The Catholic Church has often been accused of interference in political affairs. It has asked bishops not to protest, but did encourage priests, nuns and churchgoers to take part.
Tensions over the issue have mounted.
Top Italian Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco recently received a bullet and his photograph stamped with a swastika in the mail, apparently for his opposition to civil unions.
Bagnasco, who is archbishop of Genoa and also president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, maintains that a family can only be founded on marriage between a man and a woman and has appeared to compare same-sex partnerships to incest or paedophilia.