The Italian Almanac

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lesbian kiss

Stolen Kisses

Photographs of same-sex couples kissing designed to tackle homophobia are at the centre of a row after Bergamo authorities decided they could not be displayed in public. The images were scheduled for a one-day open-air exhibition to mark next month's International Day against Homophobia but will now be restricted to an indoor viewing following a vote by Bergamo council.

Explaining the reasons for the move, which was fiercely contested by centre-left opposition councillors, Mayor Franco Tentorio said he believed the images of same-sex couples kissing might upset some members of the public. "We considered the requests in depth and we have given permission for an anti-homophobia conference. But the exhibition worried us. On the basis of the organizers' presentation it seemed to us that the contents were too strong. An exhibition in the middle of town seemed inappropriate to us. We gave priority to the sensibilities of children and the elderly," he said.

The exhibition Baci Rubati (Stolen Kisses), which will now go on show for two days in the Piazza della Liberta Auditorium, features a series of photographs submitted by members of the general public. The images are a mixture of sexual and platonic displays of affection, between gay, lesbian and straight couples, as well as between relatives and friends.

Representatives of the local gay and lesbian community expressed bewilderment and anger at the council's decision. The head of the Bergamo chapter of Italy's largest gay association, Arcigay, said it reflected "an intolerant attitude towards gays and lesbians". Giulia Lorenzi, the local leader of lesbian association Arcilesbica, said there was "absolutely nothing indecent about any of the images".