'Gays' to Ex-'Gays': Go Away!---'Gay' Row at Sanremo Festival

Gay row hits Sanremo festival: Group threatens to disrupt event over 'gay convert' song (ANSA)Rome, Dec. 23-Italian gay rights group Arcigay on Tuesday threatened to disrupt Italy's biggest musical event of the year, the Sanremo song festival, if a song apparently about 'converting' gays to heterosexuality is not pulled... Mancuso said Povia was ''not exactly new'' to taking public stances against homosexuality, adding that he was famous for a magazine interview in which he declared that ''people aren't gay, they become gay on the basis of who they spend time with''...

The Arcigay president said Povia had gone on to say that he had ''had a gay phase, it lasted seven months, and then I got over it'' as well as claiming to have ''converted'' two of his friends who ''thought they were gay'' but were now married.

Mancuso claimed the song referred to a formerly gay man..., who claims to have been ''cured'' of his homosexuality thanks to the controversial reparative therapies of American Catholic psychologist Joseph Nicolosi ...

Mancuso warned state broadcaster RAI, which shows the glitzy five-day event each year, that protests would be ''extremely strong, noisy and organised'' if the song was not withdrawn from the festival...

But politician Luca Volonte' of the Catholic UDC party described Arcigay's efforts as ''a clear attempt at discrimination and censorship''.

''A firm response is needed to the violent verbal threats of Arcigay against Giuseppe Povia and his song, which is about real experiences of friendship,'' he said.

Volonte' added that last year Italian pop singer Anna Tatangelo had competed with a song entitled My Friend, written for a gay friend about the difficulty he faces in Italy because of his sexuality.

''Tatangelo can sing about these issues but Povia can't? That's intolerable, racist and fascist,'' he said.

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