A beach resort in southern Italy has been accused of homophobia after banning a young couple from hugging.
A 17-year-old man and an 18-year-old man were at the Lido Arcobaleno beach resort in Caserta, Campania. They hugged while in the pool at the public facility but were approached by a lifeguard who asked them to stop.
The couple both said they were “intimidated” by the guard who was only concerned with their embrace and not the nearby heterosexual couples who were also hugging.
Speaking to Repubblica, one of the young men, a Caserta resident who was not identified, said: “We were in the pool like everyone else. While we were in the water, like everyone else present, we also embraced, a spontaneous embrace, but we are two men and it was not appreciated.”
The 17-year-old said that the lifeguard came up to them and asked them to stop as there were “children present in the facility”. He also told them to behave in a more “composed” way.
As they were leaving the pool the lifeguard then came up to them for a second time. They told Il Fatto Quotidiano he said: “he would have asked the same restraint of heterosexual couples.” The two men told the paper that this was not true as the heterosexual couples were not asked to stop embracing.
The President of the Caserta regional branch of Rain Arcigay, an Italian LGBT activist group, said that discrimination is rife in the Italian tourism industry, despite laws ensuring equal rights for gay couples. She stated that the government should introduce new legislation to protect the LGBT community.
Bernardo Diana brought up the case of a gay couple from Naples who were not able to book into a guesthouse in Calabria last month because the Catholic owners believe in “traditional families” and “does not accept gays and animals.”