Rainbow Christmas lights in memory of gay teen spark controversy in Italy

AFP Staff Reports

ROME, Italy — The rainbow-themed Christmas lights that were illuminated Friday on Rome’s main shopping street have sparked controversy in the Italian capital city.



City assemblywoman Imma Battaglia said she and mayor Ignazio Marino had decided to send a message with the multicolored lights, which ripple for almost a mile of the bustling Via del Corso, reported AFP.

Battaglia, who also leads a gay rights campaign group, said the lights were intended to be against homophobia following the suicide of a gay teenager in the city.

But the right-wing Fratelli d’Italia (Italian Brothers) party has labelled the decision “provocative and ideological,” and is demanding the lights to be replaced with ones showing the three colors of the Italian flag, red, white and green.

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Battaglia, who is from the leftist Sel party, added that the light display could also be seen as a peace symbol.

The head of the company behind the installation, Laura Rossi International, has sought to defuse controversy, saying the lights would now be dedicated to the late anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.

“This way the message of love, tolerance, unity and sharing will become stronger,” said company leader, Laura Rossi.

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