Metro Weekly

Italian Court Convicts Parents of Abusing Gay Son

An Italian judge has convicted two parents for attempting to "cure" their son of homosexuality, but they may not serve any prison time.

Image: Todd Franson – Original gavel photo by Andrey Burmakin, via Dreamstime

An Italian court sentenced the parents of a gay teen to prison for acts that it has deemed “abusive” while they were trying to force their son to be straight.

The parents had been indicted in October of abuse for threatening and humiliating their son in the hope that the severe punishments inflicted upon him would sway or convince him to “become heterosexual.”

Appearing in court in Turin on January 23, they accepted a plea deal in which the boy’s father would be sentenced to two years in prison for carrying out the abusive acts. The boy’s mother, meanwhile, would be sentenced serve 16 months in jail for failing to intervene when the father’s actions crossed the line from discipline into abuse.

Judge Antonio Borretta, with the consent of prosecutor Guilia Rizzo, agreed to suspend both sentences on the condition that both parents undergo a “psychological and remedial course for one year at an accredited institution,” as required by Italy’s Code Red law, which seeks to combat domestic violence.

Under the law, offenders convicted of domestic or gender-based violence may enroll in diversion or treatment programs designed to decrease the risk of recidivism.

According to the Italian newspaper La Stampa, the now-17-year-old’s father read his son’s diary in 2020, when the youth was 14, and discovered the boy was attracted to other males. 

The father then imposed various punishments on his son, forcing him to do military-style training runs at night, refrain from shaving, expose his genitals, and read pages from his diary out loud.

He also accessed his son’s online social media accounts, monitoring sites he visited and restricting who he could communicate with.

When those punishments didn’t work, the father sought help from a psychologist in the hope that the psychologist would affirm the parents’ conservative worldview. However, the psychologist refused to take on the son as a client, explaining to the parents that homosexuality is not a disease.

In January 2021, when the boy was 15, the father gave him one month to prove he’d engaged in sexual intercourse with a girl. The son sought help from a school psychologist, who reported the parents to authorities for suspected abuse.

The son, who will turn 18 in six months, has received compensation from his parents for their mistreatment and is living far from the family home, with assistance from his lawyer.

The sentence is being handed down at a time when Italian society is experiencing a backlash from cultural conservatives, dovetailing with efforts by the country’s fascist ruling party, the Brothers of Italy, to crack down on homosexuality and gender nonconformity as part of a larger plan to grow the country’s birth rate as a way of reasserting Italian national identity.

As The Guardian has reported, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s government has pursued “pro-family” policies, including discouraging women from having abortions, discouraging displays of homosexuality, and even rolling back rights of same-sex couples by erasing non-biological parents from children’s birth certificates.

Several local prosecutors, emboldened by the government’s policies, have begun contesting the parental rights of non-biological parents in court, while also enforcing existing procedural barriers that make it more difficult for non-biological parents to adopt their own children.

As a result of those policies, some same-sex couples have begun planning to flee the country out of fear that they will lose custody over their children or be denied legal recognition as parents.

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