More then 10 Italian lesbian groups and more then 100 lesbians*, together with numerous allies from the feminism and lgbt movements, have signed a document denouncing the lesbophobic murder of Elisa Pomarelli.
On 24 August 2019 Elisa Pomarelli was killed by Massimo Sebastiani because she was a lesbian and dared to refuse the advances of a man she believed to be her friend. She was punished because she claimed her right to self-determination, to express her identity and to freely choose her relationships. Elisa’s is a feminicide and a lesbicide.
Now, one year after his death, a trial begins in which justice, at best, will only be half done. The murderer has in fact requested and obtained the shortened ritual, and therefore, the discount of sentence which, in cases recognised as feminicides, is not granted. Even the aggravating circumstance of lesbian phobia has not been detected, in the absence, to date, of a specific law. Elisa’s murder cannot be recognised either as feminicide or as lesbicide, a hate crime of a lesophobic matrix, when it is both.
Elisa was not only killed in one way. In the days following her feminicide, the Italian media had speculated about a possible relationship between her and her killer, talking about “good giant”, “dangerous game”, “unrequited love”. Then, when her sexual orientation was made public, it was suddenly said that the victim’s personal life had to be protected, that she should not be presumed or labeled Elisa who was only 28 years old and could perhaps even change her mind. Journalistic ethics requires that sensitive data, including sexual orientation, should not be disclosed unless it is of fundamental importance in order to offer the public information.
These rules are hardly ever respected, just think of headlines such as “Gay Crime” or the constant references to the sex assigned to the birth of transgender people in the news where they have nothing to do with it, but only if it is lesbianism that has to be named. Many newspapers have chosen to erase Elisa’s identity, history and choices, invisibilizing her as a lesbian, and with her, all of us.
Like all subjectivities that subvert the patriarchal order by their very existence, we lesbians must not be named, or we try to take possession of our stories, misrepresenting them so that our identity is an irrelevant detail and the word lesbian is only used as an insult.
In the face of this tragedy it is important to ask ourselves how it could have happened.
Elisa Pomarelli’s lesbicide is also the result of structural lesbianism that permeates the whole of society.
Every day we hear stories of girls and women attacked in the streets because they exchange a kiss. We hear stories of girls, even very young ones, who are either removed from their families or forced to undergo reparative treatment because they are considered ill. We read about corrective rapes inflicted by fathers and relatives on lesbians. We know that migrant lesbians are asked to show their orientation when they apply for asylum. We know about the violence suffered by lesbians with disabilities, whose lives are systematically denied. We no longer count bullying in schools, dismissals, bullying and sexual harassment in professional contexts.
Lesbian-phobic violence afflicts lesbians daily in all areas of life and can lead, as in the case of Elisa Pomarelli, to the worst tragedy, murder.
This violence is no longer tolerable and we strongly denounce it, because silence and invisibility do not protect us, but our oppressors.
We lesbians all feel involved in this painful affair and recognise its sexist and lesbian-phobic matrix. We are aware that crimes such as this one are the most heinous expression of systemic violence, which affects women and lesbians every day, who are not guaranteed adequate protection.
In this context, it is more urgent than ever to pass a law that recognises an aggravating circumstance for cases of violence against lesbians and women, such as the one that is being discussed in Parliament in recent months.
We believe that this law, if passed in its integral form, represents a significant step forward, while remaining aware that legislative action alone is by no means sufficient to combat homolesbobransphobic hate crimes, which must be fought by making a radical change in culture and society.
Each of us could have been Elisa. This is why we lesbians all see each other again in her story: we recognise the misogyny and lesbianism that moved the killer’s hand and that we live on our skin every day.
Elisa’s story could have been any one of us.
So that it never happens again, we demand to live in a country where it is possible for lesbians and women to remain free to decide their own lives, reject unwanted relationships, move beyond geographical, architectural and cultural barriers without running the risk of being attacked or killed for it.
ALFI – Associazione Lesbica Femminista Italiana
EL*C – Eurocentralasian Lesbian* Community
Rete Donne Transfemminista di Arcigay
Alfi Le Maree Napoli
Alfi Lune – Lesbiche del nord est
Associazione Luki Massa
Campo lesbico di Agape
Collettiva Lesbica Occhipazzi Firenze
Gruppo donne “Marielle Franco” – Arcigay Catania
Anna Maria Alberini
Antonella De Luce
Fabiana Di Mattia
Gaia Di Salvo
Giuliana De Angelis
Joelle Sambi Nzeba
Maria Cristina Mochi
Valentina Tripepi Margiotta
Atelier Vantaggio Donna
Casa delle donne per non subire violenza – Bologna
GenPol – Gender & Policy Insights
Libera…mente donna ets
Non una di meno – Piacenza
Voci Di Donne Biella
A Voce Alta Salerno
Apple Pie: l’amore merita LGBT+
Arcigay Agorà Pesaro e Urbino
Arcigay Arezzo Chimera Arcobaleno
Arcigay Cuneo GrandaQueer
Arcigay del Trentino
Arcigay EOS Cosenza
Arcigay I Due Mari Reggio Calabria
Arcigay Il Cassero Bologna
Arccigay Mantova La Salamandra
Arcigay Modena Matthew Shepard
Arcigay Pianeta Milk Verona
Arcigay Strambopoli QueerTown Taranto
Arcigay Torino “Ottavio Mai”
Associazione Lgbt+ IL GROVIGLIO Biella
Associazione Studentesca Universitaria Iris
Azione Gay e Lesbica Firenze
Centaurus Arcigay Alto Adige Südtirol
Cooperativa sociale Hara
Coordinamento Taranto Pride 2020
IREOS comunità queer autogestita Firenze
Mixed Lgbti – Bari
Lorenzo De Preto