Gay Rape. It exists and we need to talk about it

By The Gay UK, Oct 6 2015 01:00PM

Rape is a most detestable crime. It is a crime that involves sex but also violence, deceit, power and in some instances romance. As a society we have come to the (unfounded) conclusion that rape is a violent affair, committed by a stranger in a dark alley at midnight and victims are always women. How wrong we are.

(C) Kwest / Depositphotos.com | FILE PHOTO

(C) Kwest / Depositphotos.com | FILE PHOTO
Historically, there has been little consideration of men as victims of rape. The law only recognised non-consensual penetration of the anus as rape in 2003 under the Sexual Offences Act. But male rape in the twenty first century is, more than ever, a social issue.
According to the most recent government statistics, The British Crime Survey (2013) found that out of 473,000 victims of sexual assault, 72,000 are male. Narrow this to rape and it is estimated that 78,000 people in the UK are victims of rape, of which 9,000 are believed to be men. For those who like statistics, male rape accounts for almost twelve per cent of the estimated national total; a figure that cannot be ignored.
Whilst this is a serious social issue, you wonder why a gay lifestyle magazine is raising the subject. The reason is that current law is gender specific, meaning only men can be perpetrators of rape, not women. In other words, men are raping 9,000 other men a year. Gay rape exists and we need to talk about it.
The most basic definition of rape is sexual intercourse without consent. The issue with this is that there exists no clear definition of what consent means and it presupposes that both parties define consent in the same way. As a result victims often don’t understand that they have been abused.
When violence is involved, it is easier to identify a lack of consent because there would often be evidence of resistance. Although it is no longer necessary to show that force was used to prove that sex was non-consensual, it remains difficult for most to understand this and a gap is created between principle and practice. In principle, any submission to non-consensual sex is rape. Yet those who are subject of rape will often fail to recognise this and would not consider themselves victims.

 © Zoooom / Depositphotos.com | FILE PHOTO

© Zoooom / Depositphotos.com | FILE PHOTO
It is alarming to discover that the real rape stereotype, mentioned above, is so wrong. In most instances the victim is raped by someone known to him and this is known as acquaintance rape; often this involves some form of deceit, intoxication and also romance. Note that violence is very rare in this scenario and it distinguishes between force and unwanted sex. It is important for us as a community to recognise this distinction and recognise the later as the most prevalent form of gay rape.
In large, social attitudes are to blame for us not recognising rape when it happens. But another hurdle for male rape victims is the police. Since the legal identification of male rape, there has been an increase on police reporting every year. However, these figures are an underestimation of the true reflection of male rape due to the reluctance many have to report their experience. The statistics in this instance are merely the tip of the iceberg.
Recent reports* have suggested that police officers responsibility and care for victims of male rape is very poor. Treatment provided is completely insufficient because there is a lack of training, awareness and understanding. Compare this to the extensive training and recent reform gone in to female rape and it may appear somewhat homophobic, that the police consider male rape as a less serious issue. All this adds to the reluctance victims have to report their rape to the police.
As a result of poor education, police often challenge male rape victims’ sexuality and masculinity. In instances of acquaintance rape (which we know is the most common form) police tend to view victims as somewhat culpable for their rape because they failed to fight off their attacker. Consequentially, the police are far more likely to blame homosexual male rape victims than heterosexual male rape victims for their rape. This would suggest that the police consider sexual violence less distressing for homosexual men and are more likely to view the rape as consensual sex.
Despite all this, if a rape victim manages to be taken serious and the case was to proceed to trial, the victim has to endure the gruelling process of cross-examination. As questions surrounding the male rape victim’s sexual history with the alleged perpetrator are allowed at trial, it can be argued that if consensual homosexual sec took place previously, it was also consensual sex at the time in question. In addition to this, the victims’ physical response can be used to discredit the male rape victim. For example, if the victim were to have an erection and ejaculate, despite this being an involuntary reaction. Yet this involuntary body response is used as to argue that the male rape victim consent to the sexual activity.
It is evident that there is a lack of understanding to manage male rape victims because there is a lack of understanding and knowledge of male rape. This is amplified by the continuing presence of rape myths and stereotyping certain (homosexual) victims of male rape. The only way to counter this is to demand attention and to discuss the issue, amongst ourselves, with the police and if be it in court.
* Javaid, A. (2014) Male Rape: The Unseen World of Male Rape. Internet Journal of Criminlogy, ISSN 2045 6743Khan, N. A. (2008) Male Rape: The Emergence of a Social and Legal Issue. Great Britain: Palgrave Macmillan.Rumney, P. (2008) ‘Policing male rape and sexual assault.’ Journal of Criminal Law, 72 (1), pp. 67-86.

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by Joshua Vaughan | @Joshua_Le_Von

“Real equality” is what the Conservatives stand for, according to David Cameron

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by Josh WitheyDavid-Cameron

British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke about how important equality meant to his party, in his speech to the Conservative’s annual conference.

Mr Cameron told party members, MPs and the press: “Ten years ago I stood on a stage quite like this one, and I said that if we changed our party, we could change our country.

“We’ve done that together.

“It wasn’t just me that put social justice, tackling climate change, equality for gay people, and helping the world’s poorest at the centre of the Conservative Party’s mission. We all did.”

This wasn’t the only reference to equality Mr Cameron made in his speech in Manchester, he went on to say: “We can talk all we like about opportunity, but it is meaningless unless people are really judged equally.

“Think about it like this: opportunity doesn’t mean much to a British Muslim if he walks down the street and is abused for his faith.

“Opportunity doesn’t mean much to a black person constantly stopped and searched by the police because of the colour of their skin.

“Opportunity doesn’t mean much to a gay person rejected for a job because of the person they love. It doesn’t mean much to a disabled person prevented from doing what they’re good at because of who they are.”

“The point is, you can’t have true opportunity without real equality, and I want our party to get this right. The party of the fair chance. The party of the equal shot.

“I want us, the Conservatives, to end discrimination and finish the fight for real equality in our country today.”

The Prime Minister made his comments on the same day the United Kingdom was knocked off the number one spot in the European Union’s Rainbow Index. The UK, which was previously number one for four years, is no longer considered the best European country to be LGBT in.

In addition to that, yesterday John Walker was denied the same pension rights for his hisband that heterosexual couples have. His partner of 20 years is only entitled to £500 of an £41,000 pension a year.

Despite the fantastic moves forward in LGBT equality, it seems the Conservative Party still have their work cut out of them to achieve true equality for all.

Companies vow to hire and support LGBT graduates

Independent IE LogoAdam Cullen – 08/10/2015 | 02:30

 

 

Deutsche Bank was one of the companies present at the event1
Deutsche Bank was one of the companies present at the event

Some of the world’s biggest companies have gathered in Dublin to give their commitment to the recruitment of Irish lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) graduates.

Finance giants MetLife and Deutsche Bank were joined by Vodafone, LinkedIn, PayPal, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and others in the RDS at the gradireland event yesterday for the launch of the new LGBT recruitment drive.

The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network’s (GLEN) Diversity Champions programme aims to connect the nations young graduates with LGBT-friendly companies.

Speaking at the event, GLEN’s director of workplace diversity, Davin Roche, said the programme was incredibly important for those who want to know that their sexuality will be “fully respected”.

“Most young jobseekers, including LGBT jobseekers, want to join companies that clearly demonstrate that they are progressive and inclusive,” he said.

“LGBT employees in particular want to know that the companies they join will be workplaces where they can be themselves, where they can thrive and succeed, and where their sexual orientation or gender identity will be fully respected and welcomed as part of a diverse organisation.

“Young people joining companies are more likely to conceal their sexual orientation than those who have been there for many years, which emphasises the need for companies to demonstrate that they are inclusive,” he added.

Senior Operations Manager with US giant MetLife Michael Quinn said the programme was vital for “encouraging employees to be themselves at work”.

“It’s been refreshing to experience the level of support and encouragement offered to LGBT employees here at MetLife,” he said.

“Launching our LGBT employee group in Dublin has been an important milestone, encouraging all employees to bring their whole selves to work.”

The news comes after the Department of Education revealed new rules are on the way to help transgender pupils in areas such as uniforms and the use of changing rooms.

The position of children in single-sex schools who undergo a gender change – as they now may do from the age of 16 – was also a key talking point in discussions week this week.

As reported in the Irish Independent, a number of schools are already struggling with how to handle the issue, which has come into sharper focus following the passage of recent gender recognition legislation.

There are no official figures for the percentage of the Irish population that is transgender, but internationally it is 1pc.

Irish Independent

What should schools teach pupils about sex?

Peter Thatchell Foundation

 

 

 

 

Editorial:  Peter Thatchell has once again put forward some radical thoughts on sex and education.  NIGRA is drawing attention to this as a means of opening the debate that surely needs to occur over the UKs range of sex education policies and how they impact on our children and future society.

 

Time for radical rethink of sex education to ensure sexual health & happiness

By Peter Tatchell

Let’s Talk About Sex
Teach Secondary – London, UK – Issue 46 – 2015
READ: http://bit.ly/1McmuTu

Millions of young people enter adulthood sexually and emotionally illiterate. Many subsequently endure disordered relationships, ranging from unfulfilling to outright abusive. The result? Much unhappiness – and sometimes mental and physical ill-health.

The lack of effective sex and relationship education (SRE) in UK schools is part of the problem. It is mostly vague and euphemistic, with too little detail and not enough explicitness to be of practical benefit. Much of it concentrates on the biological facts of reproduction, often concerning other species such as rabbits. Very little teaching is actually about sex – or relationships. And it starts too late; usually after young people have become sexually active and adopted bad habits such as unsafe sex.

While SRE should not encourage early sex (it is best if young people wait), it should prepare them for a satisfying, safe adult sexual and emotional life.

The UK government’s education watchdog, Ofsted, said the amount of time spent on SRE in schools is inadequate and that much of it is poor quality. The Social Exclusion Unit noted: “The universal message received from young people is that the sex and relationship education they receive falls far short of what they would like.”

What, then, needs to change in order to make SRE more effective? Here are some suggestions regarding what should be taught in schools:

Sexual Rights Are Human Rights
It is a fundamental human right to love an adult person of either sex, to engage in any mutually consensual, harmless sexual act with them and to share a happy, healthy sex life.

The Right To Sexual Self-Determination
‘It’s my body and my right to control it’ should be promoted in every school to ensure that young people assert their right to determine what they, and others, do with their body – including the right to abstain from sex, say ‘no’ and report abusers. This ethos of sexual self-determination is crucial to thwart people who attempt to pressure youngsters into abusive relationships and risky sex.

A New Ethical Framework: Mutual Consent, Respect & Fulfilment
It is important that SRE acknowledges diverse sexualities and lifestyles, while also giving teenagers guidance on their rights and responsibilities – including teaching about consent and abuse issues. A positive ethical framework can be summed up in three simple principles: mutual consent, reciprocal respect and shared fulfilment. The great advantage of these principles is that they apply universally, regardless of whether people are married or single, monogamous or promiscuous or hetero, bi or homo.

Promoting Safer Alternatives: Oral Sex & Mutual Masturbation
If schools are serious about cutting the incidence of teen pregnancies, abortions and HIV infections, they should highlight safer, healthier alternatives to vaginal and anal intercourse. Oral sex and mutual masturbation carry no risk of conception and a lower risk of HIV. The most effective way to persuade teenagers to switch to these alternatives is by making them look and sound sexy, explaining that they can be sexually fulfilling  and emphasising their advantages over intercourse: no worries about unwanted conceptions, reduced HIV risk and no need to use the pill or condoms. While mutual masturbation is totally safe, oral sex can transmit sexual infections. It is safer than intercourse but not risk-free.

Sex Is Good For You
SRE lessons should acknowledge that sex is good for us. It is natural, wholesome, fun and (with safe sex) healthy. Quality sex can have a very beneficial effect on our mental and physical well-being. Young people have a right to know that while sex is not essential for health and happiness (some people get by without it and that’s fine), most people find that regular, fulfilling sex lifts their spirits and enhances their lives and relationships.

Give Kids All The Facts
Sex education ought to tell the whole truth about every kind of sex and relationship – including sexual practices that some people find distasteful, such as anal intercourse and sadomasochism. The purpose of such frankness is not to encourage these practices, but to help pupils deal with them if they encounter them in later life.

Hetero, Homo and Bi Are Equally Valid
When based on mutual consent, respect and fulfilment between adults, both opposite-sex and same-sex relations are morally valid. While schools should not promote any particular sexual orientation, they should encourage understanding and acceptance of heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual orientations (and transgender and intersex identities) in order to ensure pupil self-acceptance – and to combat prejudice, discrimination, bullying and hate crime.

How To Have Good Sex
Sexual literacy is just as important as literacy in words and numbers. Good sex isn’t obvious; it has to be learned. To ensure happier, more fulfilled relationships in adulthood, SRE for 16+ pupils should include advice on how to achieve mutually-fulfilling, high quality sex; including the emotional and erotic value of foreplay; the multitude of erogenous zones and how to excite them; and methods to achieve good orgasms for one’s self and one’s partner.

Live & Let Live
Human sexuality embraces a glorious diversity of emotions and desires. We are all unique, with our own individual erotic tastes. People are sexually fulfilled in a huge variety of different ways. Providing behaviour is consensual, between adults, where no one is harmed and the enjoyment is reciprocal, schools should adopt a non-judgemental ‘live and let live’ attitude.

Education From The First Year Of Primary School
SRE needs to be age-appropriate; starting from the early years of primary school by talking about body changes at puberty and, to tackle abuse, about inappropriate touching. It needs to become more detailed and explicit at secondary level. The reason for starting so young is that most children now begin puberty between the ages of eight and 12. Long beforehand, they need to know about the physical changes they will undergo and the desires they will develop. Keeping them ignorant jeopardises their happiness and welfare. Early knowledge is the key to later wise, responsible sexual behaviour.

Respect For Sexual Diversity
Our desires and temperaments are not the same. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ when it comes to sex, love and relationships. That is why teachers have a duty to validate the diversity of adult sex and relationships that fall within the ethical framework of mutual consent, respect and fulfilment.

Overcoming Sex Shame To Tackle Abuse
Sexual guilt causes immense human misery – not just frustrated, unhappy sex lives, but actual psychological and physical ill-health. It also helps sustain child abuse. Adults who sexually exploit youngsters often get away with it because the victims feel embarrassed or guilty about sex and are therefore reluctant to report it. SRE needs to encourage young people to have more open, positive attitudes towards sexual matters. Teenagers who feel at ease talking about sex are more likely to disclose abuse.

Mandatory Lessons & A Revised Parental ‘Opt Out’
Sex and relationships are very important in most people’s lives. That’s why education about them should be a mandatory part of the curriculum in every school. SRE lessons should be at least monthly all throughout a child’s school life – not once a term or once a year. Moreover, we don’t let parents take their kids out of maths or history, so why should a parental ‘opt out’ be permitted for SRE? At the very least, parents who want to withdraw their children should be required to come to each lesson and physically remove their child. This way the parental ‘opt out’ option is retained but the actual ‘opt out’ rate is reduced.

Over to the Education Secretary. Nicky Morgan, please ensure that SRE lessons are a statutory requirement in all schools and that they start addressing these issues.

* Peter Tatchell contributed to “Teenage Sex: What should schools teach children?” Hodder & Stoughton, £5.99. For more information about the Peter Tatchell Foundation’s human rights work, to receive email bulletins or to make a donation: http://www.PeterTatchellFoundation.org

20 years of Hollyoaks, one killer week

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The brand new, visually stunning trailer for Hollyoaks starts off with the most fantastic Pride party… But things quickly take a turn for the worse.

Ste and Harry look like they’re having a great time.

Even as the rain starts to fall…

But look out… The gloved hand killer makes an appearance as the waters rise.

It was filmed over three days at Pinewood studios, using a special underwater tank.

The soundtrack to the trailer is by the fantastic, Charli XCX. Which song? We hear you ask… Die Tonight of course.

Watch the stunning trailer here…

20 years of Hollyoaks, One Killer Week – from October 19th on C4. #hollyoaks20years

 

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Westboro Baptist Just Messed With The Wrong Group Of Students

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Deputy Gay Voices Editor, The Huffington Post

They had no idea what these kids had in store.

A crowd of high school students drove Westboro Baptist Church protestors away from their school in Kansas City, Missouri last week where the hate group gathered to protest the recent election of a transgender girl as homecoming queen.

Westboro showed up to picket Oak Park High School on Thursday, Oct. 1, but were met by a rally of students already gathered to support transgender homecoming queen Landon Patterson.

Westboro was driven away from their picketing site by counter-protestors carrying signs with phrases such as “Westboro Baptist Church need Jesus” and chanting “long live the queen!”

“This isn’t just about supporting Landon, this is about supporting all our students,”Christina Palermo, an organizer for the rally, told a local news outlet. “Landon is just their scapegoat. They’re attacking everyone in the LGBT community.”

Westboro Baptist Church, which has been classified as a hate group, is based in Topeka, Kansas and regularly stages high-profile protests known for featuring their trademark slogan “God Hates Fags.”

Fortunately, Westobor has faced counterprostests more and more frequently in recent months. In fact, just over a year ago The Huffington Post staged a huge love-in to fight against the group when it protested its offices in 2014.

Librarian Creates 'Books for Kids in Gay Families' Website

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Patricia Sarles, MA, MLS has put together an extraordinary resource; a virtual library catalog of books for children related to various LGBTQ issues. When I discovered that my book, Rumplepimple, had been included in the Books for Kids in Gay Families list I was first thrilled, and then intrigued. I decided to ask her a few questions about how the whole thing came about. Here are her responses. I think you’ll find her story fascinating.

How did you get started with this effort?

I am a librarian and I became interested in children’s books on the topic of assisted reproductive technology when a social worker colleague, who is a fertility counselor, asked me if I could find her any books on this topic. I thought this would be very easy because of my training in how to find information on basically any subject. My colleague, Patricia Mendell, already had a small library of children’s books on this topic so I started by searching for those titles in the Library of Congress catalog and discovered that very few were available in their catalog. In addition, they had very strange subject headings, like “infertility — juvenile literature” or “test tube babies — juvenile literature” and those subject headings were inaccurate because that’s not what the books were about. They were about children conceived via assisted reproductive technologies and about donor offspring. It became apparent that these books would not be easy to find after all. It was also obvious that there were no appropriate subject headings for books on these topics.

This intrigued me tremendously because I was now on a mission to find books on a topic that had no adequate subject headings. This meant they would be nearly impossible to find. I also knew that there were mothers and fathers out there who needed children’s books like these in order to share with their children how they came into the world. There was a need but no means for a librarian to find these books should a patron walk into a library and ask a librarian to help them. That’s when I started my blog.

How long ago did this take place?

My search began in 2003 when I first met Patricia Mendell, but I did not start my blog until the spring of 2009. I started with Patricia’s small collection and added to it as I unearthed more. What started as a collection of about 15 books in English in 2003 has now turned into a collection of about 240 books in twelve languages so far in 2015! So how did I find these books that were not part of the Library of Congress collection and/or had no appropriate subject headings? I began scouring self-publishing catalogs, and the Web doing Google searches.

I’ve also learned terms in multiple languages, like Spanish, French, Italian, etc. and do regular searches in those languages. And now that my blog has been out there for a while, people who write these books also write to me and I have discovered several this way. Since I have searched for these books in English and in so many other languages, I am safe to say that I am the only person in the world who maintains a collection and since I share these books with Patricia Mendell, together we have the largest private library on these titles in the world. It is my hope one day to donate the books to a university or medical library, catalog them, and add them to WorldCat so that they are findable for librarians around the world. It is also my hope to get the Library of Congress to create adequate and appropriate subject headings.

You obviously find the LOC subjects lacking. What have you done to try to bring about improvements?

In 2009, Patricia Mendell and I started writing an article on these children’s books which in 2010 was published in the journal, Children & Libraries. In it, we talked about the inadequacy of Library of Congress subject headings and the difficulty we had in finding these books. This article was picked up by Sandy Berman, a Library of Congress gadfly who has spent an entire career petitioning the Library of Congress for subject headings on a variety of topics for which there were none. He sent my article to the Library of Congress and petitioned them for a subject heading for “Donor offspring.” I too had written to them asking them for new and more accurate subject headings for children’s books on assisted reproductive technology but they wrote me back that they found their subject headings adequate. But in 2012, the Library of Congress added the new subject heading, “Children of sperm donors.” This was a major accomplishment, which I felt I could take credit for since this was one of the subject headings I suggested they create. It is still not appropriate though because it implies that the books are about the children of people who donated their sperm and not about the resulting offspring of sperm donors. We subsequently published an article about this as well. It is my hope to write and publish more articles on this topic so that the Library of Congress can see that more appropriate terms are needed for donor offspring and other topics related to assisted reproductive technology.

So your work initially focused on assisted reproductive technology, but it branched out to include LGBT issues?

In the fall of 2009, I started my Gay-Themed Picture Books for Kids blog, when my social worker colleague asked for a list of children’s books for her gay clients who used third party reproduction to build their families. Third party reproduction would include the use of sperm donation for lesbian couples and egg donation, surrogacy, and IVF for gay couples. An organization she is involved with, the non-profitPath2Parenthood, formally the American Fertility Association, and an inclusive organization which helps couples, both gay and straight, build their families through third party reproduction, was looking to build a booklist for their gay clients on this topic. I wanted to help, and so I began my gay-themed picture books blog. There I set out to collect a list of gay-themed picture books for children. I started with the lists already in existence, the COLAGE list, the American Library Association GLBT Round Table list, and I began to build my own list. In the case of Library of Congress subject headings, gay-themed books make much more sense:

Children of gay parents
Lesbian mothers
Gay parents
Gay fathers

As with my Books for Donor Offspring blog, I search for books in multiple languages and I believe I have created the most comprehensive list on the Web. I have found over 500 picture books in thirteen languages.

Your websites list your email address as “Tovahsmom”. Do you mind telling us who Tovah is?

In 2003, my partner of 23 years and I went through the process of artificial insemination in order to build our family. This is how we came to visit a fertility counselor and how we met Patricia Mendell. Unfortunately, our attempt did not take and we did not become pregnant so we never had children. Tovah however is the name of one of our dogs who passed away in 2013.

Thanks for sharing this very personal part of your story, Patricia. And thank you for the work you are doing on behalf of all the families who want books for their children which reflect their personal reality. Your donation of time, thought, and effort for the sake of others is inspiring.

Study shows 1.6% of UK population identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual

 

New figures released today have shown that 1.6% of the UK population consider themselves gay, lesbian or bisexual.

The Office for National Statistics has said that an average of 1.1% of the population said they were gay or lesbian, while 0.5% described themselves as bisexual. 0.3% classified themselves as ‘other’ while 3.9% didn’t know or refused to answer.

London had the highest figure, where 2.6% of respondents said they were lesbian, gay or bisexual.

The findings are taken from a household survey conducted last year, which also shows that 2.1% of professionals – such as lawyers or doctors – are gay, lesbian or bisexual, in comparison to 1.4% among manual workers.

You can see the full findings here.

And here are some graphs… We love a graph.

ONS

ONSONS

 

Italy: Gay student banned from Catholic high school over Instagram post

 

italian-school-bans-gay-student

 

A gay student at a religious high school in Italy was banned from class over his sexual orientation, his parents have claimed, triggering a furore across the Mediterranean country, which is already debating same-sex marriage.

The 16-year-old was ordered out of his classroom and placed to study alone in a hallway by the headmaster due to a photo posted on social media depicting him with another boy. As his parents became aware of the disciplinary measure, they reported it to police, claiming it was discriminatory.

“My son is being discriminated against because he is gay,” the mother told Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper. “His grades are good and teachers are happy with him.”

The catholic institute’s headmaster claimed the ban was issued for the well-being of the student, who is followed by social services, and his classmates, following the clamour that erupted at school after the incriminated photo emerged.

“This has nothing to do with discrimination, Christians do not discriminate, we accept everyone,” Adriano Corrioni, the head of the Ecfop institute in Monza, north of Milan told L’Espresso magazine. “I thought it was right to remove the student to avoid that issues which need to be addressed by his family and social services be talked about in class”.

Corrioni claimed the photo posted on Instagram was “akin to child phonography” but the mother of the boy disputed that, saying it was taken during summer holidays and simply depicted her son and a friend bare-chested.

The incident sparked furious reactions across the peninsula. LGBT rights group Arcigay said the school’s decision was unacceptable and urged the government to take action.

Vincenzo Spadafora, the head of a public authority for children and teenagers’ rights, said he was left “speechless” by the events and vowed severe measures against the school if the discriminatory nature of the ban was confirmed.

The controversy comes as the country is engaged in a heated debate over same-sex marriages, after the government pledged to introduce a law on civil unions. Italy is currently the only country in Western Europe where no form of gay marriage is recognised.