Sunday, 3 June 2007

And we are here as on a darkling plain...

The situation for gays in Eastern Europe is getting worse, and we're nowhere near the end of it, as can be seen from this article, which describes the growing homophobia in Latvia, Poland and Russia.( See my posts below, Protecting children, Polish style and To Moscow and back (sharpish) for more examples of this madness).

Sam Harris, in The End of Faith, argues that the real problem is not fundamentalism, but the respect given to the moderate voices of irrationality, which legitimise fundamentalism by asserting that even though the acts of individual fundamentalists may be abhorrent the belief system on which they're based has god-given validity.

I find Harris's argument convincing. And I'm convinced that, when it comes to homophobia, the fundamentalism of these people in eastern Europe is sustained not only by the usual religious suspects but also, for example, by the decision of the Mayor of Milan to withdraw the city's patronage, after 21 years, from the Gay Cinema Festival. It's a small thing, barely a blip on the cultural calendar of Italy, let alone Europe, but that's all the more reason to support it. The Mayor of Milan, Letizia Moratti, one of Berlusconi's most unpopular ministers during his 'government', is often spoken of as a potential leader of the centre-left when the corrupt buffoon finally hands in his mason's hammer and resigns.

Vittorio Sgarbi, motor-mouth, art critic and assessore per la cultura of Milan council, who was all in favour of the event, says that denying patronage is counter-productive and only draws attention to the festival. This may be true. But it also, and this is far more worrying, legitimises anti-gay feeling. Each time a figure of authority behaves in this way, the irrational hatred of rabid gangs of gay-bashers (see photograph) receives implicit backing.

Moratti also refused to support a gay tennis open last year unless the word gay was removed from the poster. It might have been more appropriate to remove open. On the other hand, as a member of Forza Italia, she's used to misleading publicity.

No comments: