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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 August 2007, 17:31 GMT 18:31 UK
Italians to stage gay 'kiss-in'
Gay pride marchers in Rome (file image)
Rome has seen already gay pride events but not a mass kiss-in
Italian gay rights campaigners are to take part in a collective kiss in Rome after the brief detention of two gay men in the capital on Saturday.

The pair, aged 27 and 28, were arrested in front of the Coliseum for engaging in "lewd acts in public", police said.

The two men, who were released soon afterwards, say they were kissing in a gesture of affection.

Their arrest sparked howls of protest in the media and from campaigners who say homophobia is on the rise.

'Solidarity'

Police said they had not detained the men because of their sexuality but because of the illegality of their act.

Campaigners say at least 100 people are expected to gather at the foot of the ancient arena, in the heart of Rome, to listen to public speakers and take part in the group kiss-in.

"It's a gesture of solidarity rather than protest," Aurelio Mancuso, the head of gay association Arcigay told the BBC news website.

"We want to say that these things can be discussed in an open and positive way, without conflict," he said.

According to Mr Mancuso, Italian society is well ahead of the country's political sphere in recognising gay rights.

The Vatican has attacked a recent proposed law giving more rights to unmarried couples - both heterosexual and homosexual.




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