Gay Italian choir boy to appeal dismissal

ROME (Reuters Life!) - An Italian chorister who was forced to leave his church choir after publicly admitting he was gay has said he intends to bring his case to the Bishop for appeal, Italian media reported on Tuesday.

In a story that has incensed gay rights and religious groups alike, 20 year-old Alberto Ruggin, was dismissed by his priest in Padua, northern Italy, after revealing his sexuality in a documentary shown on Italian television last week.

Ruggin, who is a practicing Roman Catholic, said that the priest, Don Paolino Bettanin, was “disgusted” by the affair.

“I tried to explain to him that a true Christian respects everybody -- he accused me of not revealing my sexuality sooner, but admitted he had suspected it. The truth is that he’s scared of what people might say. So, I’m turning to the Bishop.”

The documentary, “Hey, Darwin!,” on Canale 5, owned by private broadcaster Mediaset, examines the lives of both heterosexuals and homosexuals.

Ruggin had sung in the church choir for seven years before his removal and was openly gay with his family, who had urged him to come out.

Paolo Bonolis, one of Italy’s best loved TV personalities, who presented the program described Ruggin as having “extraordinary courage in a highly discriminative world.”

Italian gay rights groups cited the story as proof of the need for anti-homophobia laws.

Reporting by Liz Rusbridger, editing by Paul Casciato