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Italy honors gay victims of the Holocaust

Italy honors gay victims of the Holocaust

For the first time in its history, Italy next week will honor gays and lesbians who were persecuted and exterminated by the Nazis during World War II, reports Agence France-Presse. A plaque will be unveiled to the gay victims of the Nazis and Italy's fascist regime, during a ceremony at the site of the only death camp located on Italian soil, San Sabba near Trieste, the director of the camp's museum, Adriano Dugulin, told AFP. The plaque, which bears the inscription "Against all discrimination," will be unveiled when Italians hold their annual commemoration of the Holocaust on January 27, said Dugulin. Lesbians and gay men from the Italian gay rights group, Arcigay, will lay a wreath of pink flowers in the shape of a triangle at the monument in remembrance of the symbol gay men were branded with when they entered the camp. The museum will host an exhibition recounting the tragedy of Italian gays through text and photographs. According to Dugulin, Italians gays "were victims of very cruel discrimination under fascism." Gay groups have previously participated at Italian commemorations of the Holocaust, known as the Shoah in Italy, but this will be the first time the victims of antigay discrimination will be officially recognized with a monument of their own. Up to 5,000 people are believed to have died at San Sabba, infamous as the only death camp using gas ovens in Western Europe from April 1944 to April 1945. It was used by the Nazis to intern political prisoners, Jews, and other victims of persecution from September 1943. An unknown number of them were gay. "There are no figures on the number of homosexuals interned at San Sabba," said Dugulin. Ruled by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, Italy allied itself with Hitler during World War II before surrendering to the Allies in 1943, as the Germans slowly retreated. Italy's King Victor Emmanuel III had cooperated with Mussolini and signed controversial race laws in 1938, which led to discrimination against Jews. More than 8,000 Jews were deported to concentration camps under the legislation.

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