Italian general who called gay people ‘not normal’ stripped of military titles

Italian general Roberto Vannacci gives an interview to TV Network Kurdistan 24

Italian general Roberto Vannacci is facing disciplinary action after making homophobic, misogynistic and racist statements in his recently published book.

In The World Upside Down, he wrote: “Dear homosexuals, you’re not normal, get over it. Normality is heterosexuality. If everything seems normal to you, however, it is the fault of the plots of the international gay lobby which banned terms that until a few years ago were in our dictionaries.”

He also likened gay adoption to “cannibalism”.

Vannacci was the head of the Italian army’s paratroopers brigade and the Military Geographical Institute, in Florence, before being officially removed from both positions on Friday (August 18).

However, he has denied he had been fired, saying: “I do not know the disciplinary measure because I have not received any notification. I have not been removed, nor dismissed, but I have been replaced. Now there is another person in command of the Military Geographical Institute.”

When The World Upside Down initially made headlines in the national press, the Italian army distanced itself from the book, saying it had not reviewed the text before it was published. Centre-left opposition politicians called for Vannacci to be sacked, according to Reuters.

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“It is serious and alarming (when) an army general in office publishes a political essay… steeped in anti-democratic, racist, homophobic and misogynist language,” said Alessandro Zan, a left-wing politician and LGBTQ+ activist.

Defence minister Guido Crosetto confirmed that he had ordered disciplinary action against Vannacci on Thursday (August 17) for his comments not only about the LGBTQ+ community, but also environmentalists, feminists, Jews and Black Italians, who, according to the general, are “the problems afflicting Italian society”.

Crosetto denounced Vannacci’s book as “ramblings… that discredit the army, the defence ministry and the constitution”.

Roberto Vannacci’s book has been described as ramblings. Credit: Roberto Vannacci/Facebook

LGBTQ+ rights in Italy

Vannacci’s punishment was not a predictable outcome considering the political climate in Italy, with the right-wing government chipping away at LGBTQ+ rights in the country.

In January, they ordered state agencies to cease registration of children born to same-sex couples. More recently, a state prosecutor in northern Italy cancelled and reissued 33 birth certificates of lesbian couples’ children, removing non-gestational mothers from the documents.

Vannacci’s removal has been seen by some as a sign of hope for Italy.

“In Italy, there’s a lot to do, really, really a lot. But we’re doing it,” Alessio Avellino, a trans police officer and the president of the apolitical, not-for-profit organisation Polis Aperta, told Euronews.