Please note-

*Please note- Your browser preferences must be set to 'allow 3rd party cookies' in order to comment in our diaries.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Roman Gang Preys on Gays, Nabbed by Cops

By Kilian Melloy -

A gang of three criminals targeted gays for druggings and robbery in Rome during a summer crime wave, authorities say.

The gang--comprised of an Egyptian and two Romanians--targeted patrons of Coming Out, a gay bar in Rome, a Dec. 12 UPI article reported. The gang spiked the wine of their victims with benzodiazepine, a medication used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. The drug causes drowsiness and other side effects, making the victims easy to steer away from public places and rob. The article said that the gang took as many as 25 tourists from about a half dozen nations to a nearby park and stole their valuables.

One American, 55-year-old Kelly Cullen, was found dead in the park last month. Police suspect that Cullen was a victim of the gang. The gang was apprehended on Nov. 16, two days after Cullen’s body was found.

Patrons of gay bars in Rome have been targeted for violent bias-driven assaults over the past couple of years. Queerty noted in a June 7 article that the summer of 2009 saw a number of anti-gay attacks take place, and the trend was continuing a year later. One example was a gay man being beaten by a gang that hurled anti-gay epithets, including, "Filthy faggot!"

The Queerty article cited a June 6 article in British newspaper the Guardian, which assigned blame for the ongoing bias crimes and incidents of robbery to a spike in the consumption of alcohol in the city and to the election of a neo-fascist, Gianni Alemanno, as mayor of Rome.

"These thugs don’t get any support from the town hall, but they feel justified and encouraged by the political climate," the proprietor of Coming Out bar, Flavia Servadei, told the Guardian. The article listed a number of bias crimes that had taken place over a nine-month period, including beatings and attempted arson targeting a gay club.

The article said that Italian youths were disaffected due to high unemployment and increasing immigration. Moreover, "Young people in Rome who are joining extremist groups, and who are no longer being warned off violence against minorities, are increasingly deciding that such violence is legitimate," GLBT equality advocate Paolo Patanè, who heads Arcigay, told the Guardian.

In the United States, violent bias crimes against gays continue. A report released last month by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, said that gays are targeted more often than any other minority for violent attack.

"The SPLC’s analysis of 14 years of hate crime data found that homosexuals, or those perceived to be gay, are more than twice as likely to be attacked in a violent hate crime as Jews or blacks; more than four times as likely as Muslims; and 14 times as likely as Latinos," a Nov. 22 press release from the SPLC report said.

"These findings come as a wave of anti-gay attacks have washed across the country," added the release, citing an incident of multiple kidnappings and sexual assault perpetrated against several gay men by a gang in New York.

"As Americans become more accepting of homosexuals, the most extreme elements of the anti-gay movement are digging in their heels and continuing to defame gays and lesbians with falsehoods that grow more incendiary by the day," Mark Potok who edits SPLC publication the Intelligence Report, stated. "The leaders of this movement may deny it, but it seems clear that their demonization of homosexuals plays a role in fomenting the violence, hatred and bullying we’re seeing."

The anti-gay assaults that have recently taken place in Rome rise above the city’s notorious street crime, which consists mainly of pickpocketing, luggage-snatching, and various scams targeting tourists.
Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.

No comments:

Post a Comment