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03 Dec 2011 07:55
Italy’s state TV and radio network is at the centre of a censorship row after a manager instructed staff not to mention the word “condom” during programmes about World Aids Day on Thursday.
In an email to staff, reported by Italian daily Corriere della Sera, manager Laura De Pasquale wrote that Italy’s health ministry had requested that “in no broadcast should the word condom be explicitly mentioned. We must limit ourselves to the generic concept of prevention in sexual behaviour and the need to undergo HIV testing in the case of potential risk.”
The leaked email brought outrage from gay rights groups and a prompt denial from the network, which claimed it had “never given such indications”, while the health ministry, which backed a series of radio programmes on the RAI network on Aids, said it had nothing to do with the alleged ban either.
One of the experts it had recommended for a radio interview, Rosario Iardino, had discussed condoms on air, the ministry added.
But Iardino, who is head of an Italian association for HIV-positive people and a committee member of the ministry’s Aids commission, said that was not the whole story.
“When I asked RAI if I could speak about condoms they told me the programmes were only about testing and that I could only mention condoms in a strictly personal capacity, not as a member of a ministry committee,” she said.
“I ignored them, started talking about it, and they quickly said my time had run out.
Everyone is denying this policy, but I haven’t seen a statement from the manager who sent the email.”
Iardino said the health ministry’s promotion of HIV testing while at the same time avoiding all talk of contraceptives was a longstanding tradition in Catholic Italy.
“The ministry press conference about Aids Day did not mention condoms once and it has been like that for 30 years—I was furious,” she said.
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