government was ordered to pay $160,000 to a gay man who
received a driver's license for the disabled after he
volunteered information about his sexual orientation
to military authorities, the man and a gay rights
group said Monday.
27, said he told officials about his homosexuality when
he took a physical after being called up in 2000 for Italy's
mandatory year of military service, which has since
the Associated Press in a telephone interview from his
home city of Catania, Sicily, that he had hoped to avoid
service and keep working to help support his family.
He was disqualified from military service for
"It's the old
assumption that if one is homosexual, then he is also
psychologically disturbed," said Aurelio Mancuso, president
of the Italian gay rights group Arcigay.
lawyer, Giuseppe Lipera, said a military official sent his
client's paperwork to motor-vehicle officials in Catania,
who changed his standard driver's license to one for
the disabled license must be renewed every year instead of
every 10 years, as is the case for standard licenses.
officer took upon himself the task of sending the
paperwork" to the motor vehicle office, Lipera said.
"Evidently, they thought that his sexual preferences
were a mental disorder."
A judge in
Catania ordered the transport and defense ministries to pay
damages to Giuffrida in a ruling handed down last week. The
court was closed Monday afternoon, and the transport
ministry had no immediate comment.
said they had requested information on the case from
military authorities in Catania.
the court ruling and said it hoped the case would raise
awareness about discrimination.
"In Italy, we
still need to understand that differences among people
make a country richer, not poorer," Giuffrida said. He did
not say if his standard license had been restored.
He said that he
would use some of the money to buy a car. (AP)