An assault on a gay couple in a Rome subway station has led to calls for a law protecting LGBTQ people against violence.
Video of the attack, which took place on Feb. 26, was shared by LGBTQ organizations in Italy last week.
GayNet Rome noted that one of its members, Jean Pierre Moreno, was a victim in the attack, which took place after he kissed his boyfriend, Alfredo Zanobio, while they waited for a subway train in the outskirts of Rome.
“While my boyfriend and I were kissing, we suddenly heard a man shout from the other platform: ‘What are you doing? Aren’t you ashamed?’” Moreno told GayNews.
The attacker, later identified as a 31-year-old Roman man, was so incensed by their public display of affection that he crossed over the subway tracks and punched Moreno and Zanobio in the face.
He continued the assault, repeatedly punching and kicking Moreno, while a friend of the couple recorded the incident.
The attacker allegedly returned to the subway tracks to collect stones to throw at the couple, but after they threatened to call police, he ran into an underpass and boarded a train on the opposite platform.
According to the men, while trying to report the crime, local police “struggled to understand the homophobic motive” of the attack.
Police were also reluctant to obtain security camera footage from the subway in order to verify the events leading up to the attack, according to Gaynet Roma. The footage is reportedly destroyed after seven days.
Reporting of the attack in Italian media has led to calls from lawmakers and activists to prioritize legislation that would criminalize anti-LGBTQ violence.
A bill that would make anti-LGBTQ violence, as well as misogyny and violence against disabled people, a hate crime passed the lower house of Italy’s parliament last year.
However, it has stalled in the Italian senate due to the influence of the far-right Lega Nord party, The Guardian reports.
Alessandro Zan, a Democratic party senator who drafted the bill, told the Guardian that Italy needed to join “almost all other western countries” in recognizing anti-LGBTQ hate crimes.
Zan accused Lega Nord of “resistance” to the bill and said that the Italian government has yet to release it to parliament for a full vote, where he believes it has enough votes from moderate and Left-leaning parties to pass.
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