The traditional lights hanging along Rome’s main shopping street are rainbow flag-themed this Christmas season.
The municipal government in Italy’s capital city chose the multicolored motif for the mile-longish stretch of Via del Corso to convey its stance against homophobia, reports the Daily News.
The message is pertinent in Rome because a 14-year-old gay teenager committed suicide a few months ago in response to alleged bullying and his belief that his family would not accept his sexuality.
“That is how we came up with the rainbow flag idea,” said councilor Imma Battaglia, a left-wing politician and prominent Italian gay rights activist.
The gay-pride lights installation has proven highly controversial in The Eternal City.
Fratelli d’Italia, a right-wing political party, has called the rainbow-flag motif “provocative and ideological.”
Laura Rossi International, the company that put up the lights, has responded to the controversy by declaring that, actually, you know what, the gay-flag lights are now dedicated to anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela, who died last week.
“This way, the message of love, tolerance, unity and sharing will become stronger,” said the company’s CEO, Laura Rossi, according to the Daily News.
Last year, the famous lights over Via del Corso were an unexciting and noncontroversial monochrome white. In 2011, designers used the colors green, white and red to mark 150 years of Italian unification.