After going public with RAI state television’s attempts to censor his planned remarks on homophobia at an annual Worker’s Day concert, Italian rapper Fedez earned a surge of public support today.
Fedez won out and delivered his remarks on time during the Saturday evening concert (local time), claiming it was the first time he had ever been asked to request his remarks ahead of time.
He then read homophobic comments made by members of the League, Italy’s right-wing political group.
The rapper spoke out in favor of legislation aimed at punishing bigotry and hate crimes against gays and transgender people, but which has been blocked in parliament due to right-wing opposition.
Fedez released a recording of a conference call with a RAI executive and coworkers after RAI denied placing pressure on the artist. During the call, he was told that his comments would be “inappropriate” and that he should avoid using the first and last names of the politicians he was referencing.
The head of the state-owned RAI has vowed to look into the matter.
Two former premiers, Enrico Letta, now the leader of the Democratic Party, and Giuseppe Conte, the leader of the 5-Star Movement, were among those who backed Fedez.
Mr Letta demanded an apology from RAI to the rapper.
The majority of gay rights organizations applauded Fedez’s remarks.
Gabriele Piazzoni, the president of Arcigay, said he “gave voice to millions of us,” while Fabrizio Marrazzo, the spokesman for the Partito Gay (Gay Party), said the phone call with RAI management was “disconcerting” and called on RAI’s oversight board to interfere.
Aurelio Mancuso, the president of Equality Italia, was more cautious, warning that polarization could stymie the new legislation, which “must be accepted in the Senate, not on Fedez’ Instagram page.”
Meanwhile, League leader Matteo Salvini went on the offensive, repeating his arguments for opposing the bill in television appearances and social media messages, and promising to discuss the subject with Fedez on television.
Nonetheless, Mr Salvini distanced himself from the League members’ comments, calling them “disgusting.”
The so-called Zan Law, named after Democratic Party lawmaker and gay rights activist Alessandro Zan, will include women, as well as gay, transgender, and disabled persons, among the groups already covered by a law prohibiting discrimination and punishing hate crimes.
Right-wing lawmakers are opposed to language that they believe would make it illegal to openly condemn gay marriage or gay adoptions.