Shortly after taking office earlier this summer, the new Mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, sparked an international outrage when banned books featuring same-sex couples from city schools. He hasn't quite learned his lesson, however, as he recently told Italian newspaper La Repubblica that he plans to ban gay Pride events as well.
"There will never be a gay Pride in my city," he is reported to have said, adding, "Let them go and do it in Milan, or in front of their own homes." He also criticized the event as "the height of kitsch." Local activists were quick to condemn the Mayor, with the president of the organization Arcigay saying:
“Venice is not his city. At the moment he is governing it, but he won’t last long given the fool he is making of himself. He is becoming obsessive about this. Venice does not deserve it.”
Italy is the last major Western European nation without legal recognition for same-sex couples, not even civil unions. Following marriage equality victories in Ireland and the United States this summer, pressure has been mounting for change, helped along by a non-binding judgement from the European Court of Human Rights which found the state's denial of same-sex unions a human rights violation.