After at least three young gay people committed suicide in Italy this year, roughly 500 advocates rallied outside Rome's Colosseum Wednesday night to hold a candlelight vigil and demand laws to put a stop to homophobia.
The activists, carrying candles, flowers, and signs reading "I Am Gay" and "No Homophobia," were responding to the death last week of a 21-year-old gay man publicly identified as Simone D., according toAgence France-Presse. Simone's suicide is the third reported instance a gay young person taking their own life in Rome this year, notes AFP.
"We are here to launch a message against loneliness, we have to look after our young, gay or otherwise in this city and country," Aurelio Mancuso, who leads the Equality Italy association, told AFP. "We need a national plan to combat youth marginalization."
Senate vice president Valeria Fedeli, who participated in the vigil, agreed. She told AFP that the Italian Parliament needs to "approve a law against homophobia ... as quickly as possible, to restore equality, freedom, and respect to Italy."
Italy does not have any sort of hate-crimes prevention or criminalization law, and when the lower house of Parliament considered anti-hate crime legislation earlier this year, staunch opposition from the Catholic Church stalled the bill.
See photos from Wednesday's candlelight vigil in Rome on the following pages.
People take part in a demonstration to protest against homophobia Wednesday in Rome.
People hold candles as they protest against homophobia near the Colosseum in Rome.
A man holds flowers during the Wednesday evening demonstration near the Colosseum to protest homophobia in Rome.
Participants solemnly hold candles to protest Italian homophobia outside the Colosseum in Rome on Wednesday.
A man holds a placard reading "No Homophobia" during Wednesday's candlelight vigil near the Colosseum in Rome.