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Italian rapper accuses state TV of attempted censorship

Italian rapper Fedez received a wave of public support after he went public with attempts by state RAI television to censor his planned comments by drawing attention to homophobia during a Labor Day show

MILAN – Italian rapper Fedez received a wave of public support on Sunday after going public with RAI state television’s attempts to censor his planned comments on homophobia during an annual Labor Day show.

Fedez prevailed and made the statement as planned during Saturday night’s concert, saying it was the first time he had been asked to submit his comments in advance.

He read homophobic statements by members of the right-wing Italian League party. The rapper’s comments were made in support of legislation aimed at punishing discrimination and hate crimes against gays and transgender people, but which is paralyzed in parliament by the right-wing opposition.

After RAI denied pressuring the rapper, Fedez released a recording of a phone call with a RAI executive and colleagues, during which he was informed that his remarks would be “inappropriate” and discouraged him from using the first and last political names that he was quoting.

The head of the RAI state promised to investigate.

Among those who supported Fedez were two former premieres, Enrico Letta, now head of the Democratic Party, and Giuseppe Conte, who was appointed as head of the 5 Star Movement. Letta called RAI to apologize to the rapper.

Gay rights groups mainly welcomed Fedez’s words. Arcigay President Gabriele Piazzoni said he “gave millions of us a voice”, while Partito Gay (Gay Party) spokesman Fabrizio Marrazzo said the call with RAI’s management was “disconcerting” and asked the supervision of RAI council to intervene.

Equality Italia President Aurelio Mancuso was more cautious, warning that polarization could further paralyze the proposed law, “which should be passed in the Senate, not on Fedez’s Instagram page.”

League leader Matteo Salvini, however, went on an offensive, reiterating his reasons for opposing legislation in television appearances and social media posts and offering to debate the issue on TV with Fedez.

Still, Salvini distanced himself from comments by League members, calling them “disgusting”.

The so-called Lei Zan, in honor of a Democratic Party legislator and gay rights activist Alessandro Zan, would add women and people who are gay, transgender or disabled to the classes of those already protected by a law that prohibits discrimination and punishes hate crimes. .

Right-wing politicians are opposed to the language they say it would be a crime to publicly oppose gay marriage or gay adoption.

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