Villa seized from the Mafia will become an LGBT shelter

A mafia villa in Italy is to be turned into a refuge for LGBT people after it was seized by the authorities.

The villa, in Castelvolturno, north of Naples, is now going to be offered up to LGBT Italians and LGBT migrants fleeing persecution from their home countries.

The mayor of the town says that planning permission has been won by a gay rights group to turn the three-storey building – which was formerly owned by a mafia boss – into an LGBT centre.

He told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that he hoped the move would send a message of acceptance in Italy’s socially conservative south.

According to Rain Arcigay Caserta, the LGBT-rights group which will run the centre, it is the first time that property seized from the mafia has been given over for LGBT purposes.

It is crowdfunding for restoration works to make space for eight rooms, a job counselling centre and a cultural space.

Gabriele Piazzoni, national secretary of Arcigay said: “The building, which was one of the traces of the excessive power of the Mafia in our country, will redeem that story.


He added: “[It will be] a space free from discrimination and that represents a concrete defence of human, civil and social rights, beyond every boundary.”

Currently the closest LGBT shelter is over 125 miles away in Rome.

Gay couples were legally recognised in 2016, but attitudes towards same-sex couples are among the most conservative in Europe according to international surveys.

Bernardo Diana, a representative of the group, says that LGBT asylum seekers face double prejudice in the country.

“They can’t live their sexuality freely,” he said.

The villa is part of a group of houses that were abandoned when police raided them in search of Naples mafia boss, Francesco Rea.

Italy’s new cabinet has come under fire from LGBT activists after the new Families Minister said gay families do not exist.