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Openly gay teen in Rome commits suicide because of anti-gay bullying

Thursday, November 22, 2012
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ROME, Italy — A 15-year-old openly gay teen has committed suicide after allegedly suffering repeated anti-gay bullying at school and online, according to Rome’s chief deputy prosecutor, Pierfilippo Laviani.

The boy, identified only by his first name and initial — Andrea S. — hanged himself at his family home Wednesday evening. “AS” was reportedly sent home from school Tuesday after school officials reprimanded him for his frequent wardrobe consisting of pink trousers, a pink shirt, and painted fingernails.

AS attended Cavour High School, located in Rome’s central district.

According to Laviani, AS hanged himself with a scarf in front of his younger brother, who alerted his parents. Laviani also indicated that the teen had been open about his sexual orientation with friends, family, and school officials.

Laviani announced that his office had launched an investigation after the teen’s parents found a series of disturbing posts on his Facebook page. Laviani confirmed that the teen had suffered “torment and gone through hell” as a result of the daily abuse by classmates, one of whom had apparently created a fake profile on Facebook deriding the youth for his choice of colorful clothes.

Italy, where more than 85 percent of the population are Roman Catholic, has one of the worst records for LGBT rights in Europe, and has no protections for sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace or in public accommodations, or bullying laws which include anti-gay bias.

Same-sex relationships are not recognized in national law, and it is not legal for same-sex couples to jointly adopt.

A recent bill proposed by the Partito Democratico party last year to prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination and bullying failed on the second reading in the Italian Parliament.

“Now we need a law against homophobia, it’s up to the parliament,” said Vincenzo Branà, a spokesperson for Arcigay Il Cassero, an LGBT advocacy organization. “But local governments have to do something as well. They have to launch helplines and associations against homophobia.”

“This is an emergency, now. We are going to have more children die,” said Branà.

On Thursday evening, a crowd of several hundred gathered near the famed Roman Colosseum for a candlelight vigil on Via di San Giovanni, and marched to the high school on Via Cavour of Carine with most of those in attendance wearing pink ribbons in the teen’s memory.

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