Roberto, a 14-year-old boy, plunged to his death from his parents’ balcony in downtown Rome on Saturday, ending his life after being bullied for being homosexual.
The tragedy of Roberto's suicide has been causing much debate here in Italy, also because the country’s Lower House is currently debating a controversial anti-homophobia law.
Opponents say the law, if passed, would shut down and criminalize any public opposition to “gay marriage,” civil unions, or homosexuals adopting children, according to LifeSite News.
The Italian bishops’ newspaper Avvenire has been firmly against the legislation, warning it could usher in prosecutions for anyone who publicly denounces the homosexual act as a sin.
But the difficulty the Church and other groups face is that while they rightly condemn the kind of bullying that led to Roberto’s suicide, they must oppose such a law that threatens freedom of religion, conscience and expression.
In an interview with Vatican Radio, Manif Pour Tous, the group behind the enormous marches against same-sex “marriage” legislation in France earlier this year, prefaced its opposition to Italy’s proposed law by stressing it is always against “any kind of homophobic manifestation”. But it pointed out that the bill – which has been thrown out before as unconstitutional – would even outlaw as discriminatory the statement that marriage between a man and a woman is "unique" or “superior” to that of other unions. For Manif Pour Tous, it is the threatened restriction on freedom of expression that is the crucial issue in this debate.
But it was left to Roberto de Mattei, the Italian Church historian, to point out what's truly at stake.
“Once there used to be in force a Christian family order, where homosexuality was banned as immoral,” he wrote last week. “The new legislation wants to turn that order upside-down, by laying down that which was once considered deviant as a new social model and isolating as crimes, and thus as deviant and abnormal, the affirmation of Christian principals.”
He noted that today, any view that considers homosexuality as abnormal is “suppressed by law” as such criticism is viewed as “a form of unjust discrimination.”
“Few are aware,” he added, “that in the 21st century, the age of persecution against the defenders of the Christian and natural order has begun also in Europe.”
One alternative would be for Italian lawmakers to focus on providing improved systems of counselling for children struggling with homosexual tendencies, based on the morally unambiguous yet compassionate and merciful teachings of the Church, rather than pursue such dangerous legislation.
But instead, powerful lobby groups have reportedly been allowed to exert their influence behind the scenes to ensure the law passes. They will no doubt try to exploit the tragic case of Roberto and others to their advantage when parliament resumes in September.