WATCH: Lady Gaga does Rome

Calling herself a ‘child of diversity,’ she denounces discrimination at Europride

FRANCES D’EMILIO  |  Associated Press

ROME — Lady Gaga sang a few bars of her smash hit “Born This Way” and demanded the end of discrimination against gays as she proclaimed herself a “child of diversity” at a gay pride rally Saturday night in the ancient Circus Maximus.

The star, whose Born This Way album recently topped 1 million sales in a week, delighted tens of thousands of people at a brief concert in the vast field where the ancient Roman masses would gather for spectacles.

Wearing a green wig, she played the piano and sang a few numbers. But she devoted much of her appearance after an annual European gay pride parade to denounce intolerance and discrimination against gays and transgender people. Among the places she cited was the Middle East, Poland, Russia and Lithuania.

Lady Gaga told the crowd she is often asked “How gay are you, Lady Gaga?”

“My answer is: ‘I am a child of diversity.”’

She also proudly cited her Italian roots — saying she was really named Stefania Giovanna Angelina Germanotta.

And she told fans her costume — a sleek black top with one bare shoulder and billowing plaid skirt — were from the last collection of Gianni Versace.

Decrying intolerance of homosexuality, Lady Gaga lamented that young people who are gay are susceptible to “suicide, self-loathing, isolation.”

Many in the crowd had participated in an hours-long parade of colorful floats and brightly costumed marchers through Rome’s historic center before the rally. The events were part of the annual Europride day to encourage gay rights on the continent.

Lady Gaga praised her audience for its “great courage” which she says inspires her.

Europride organizers hope the event will draw attention to discrimination gays face in many parts of the world. The U.S. ambassador was among those who invited Lady Gaga to Rome.

“I am so honored to be here,” Lady Gaga said, recalling how, earlier in the day, she lay naked in silk sheets in her hotel room and enjoyed the din of adoring fans and packs of photographers in the street below.

Organizers said Rome was a significant choice of venue, since it is home to the Vatican, which staunchly opposes legislation that would recognize same-sex marriage or adoption by gay couples.

Others hoped the turnout would send a message to Premier Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian leader dogged by a sex scandal involving an alleged 17-year-old Moroccan prostitute. The billionaire media mogul triggered outrage from gay rights groups last fall when he contended during a public appearance that it was “better to be passionate about a beautiful girl than a gay.”

Berlusconi’s equal opportunity minister, a woman, defended the premier, saying he had just been joking and had no intention of offending gays. A government undersecretary further provoked protests when she said she was sure “all Italian parents hope to have heterosexual children.”

The premier, who is on trial in Milan for allegedly paying the teenager for sex and then using his office to try to cover it up, has denied any wrongdoing.

—  John Wright

Police break up gay rally in Russian capital

Associated Press

MOSCOW — Police dispersed a gay rally Tuesday, Sept. 21 and detained at least a dozen protesters in the Russian capital.

The two dozen demonstrators had been protesting the policies of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who has called homosexuals “satanic” and thwarted attempts to hold a gay pride rally in the city.

Police detained most, if not all, of those participating in Tuesday’s rally, which was held without a required permit near city hall.

The activists handcuffed themselves to a monument for the 13th-century Russian prince who founded Moscow, displayed a papier-mache mummy resembling Luzhkov and unfurled posters ridiculing the mayor and his billionaire wife, Yelena Baturina.

The activists said they objected to Luzhkov’s recent use of the word “fag,” and a court’s subsequent ruling that the word could not be deemed offensive.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, but anti-gay feelings remain strong. The country’s dominant Orthodox Church condemns gay lifestyle, and Orthodox activists have participated in dispersing previous gay rallies.

Activist Nikolai Alexeyev said in a telephone interview from inside a police van that he knew Tuesday’s rally would not be allowed.

“I had no hope it would end peacefully,” he said. “This lawlessness will go on as long as this lowlife rules the city.”

Luzhkov has been under increasingly strong pressure to resign in recent weeks, and a string of television shows on national television criticized him and his wife for alleged corruption and cronyism.

Last week, Alexeyev claimed he was kidnapped from a Moscow airport and held for more than two days by men he alleged were security agents.

Russian officials were not available for comment.

—  John Wright