Italy    ROME CANCELS GAY PRIDE SPONSORSHIP AFTER VATICAN LOBBYING
Rome's mayor said on Monday he was cancelling the city's sponsorship of July's Gay Pride events, which the Vatican has objected to.
   The decision follows an appeal by a top Italian cardinal to move the event elsewhere. Premier Giuliano Amato has called the scheduling of Gay Pride week during Holy Year "inopportune" and added that "unfortunately" Italy's constitution doesn't allow the gathering to be banned.
   Leftist Mayor Francesco Rutelli, citing events like a gay fashion show to be held near a church, said the city was withdrawing official backing of the event although it would still "be the guarantor of the gays' freedom to demonstrate."
   Gay rights leaders attacked the mayor's decision. "It's a matter of deciding if Italy is a lay country, free and democratic, or it's a Vatican serfdom," said Franco Grillini, who heads a commission in the national government's equal opportunity ministry.
   Thousands of Polish pilgrims are expected in Rome for Holy Year activities at the Vatican the same week as the gay events are scheduled.
   
AP
31 May 00

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