Maria Paola Gaglione, an 18 year-old woman from Caivano (Naples), lost her life last Friday after she was knocked off her scooter by her brother who couldn’t accept her relationship with a trans man.
According to investigators, Michele Gaglione chased his sister and her partner, Ciro, with his motorbike as they were travelling by scooter, kicking and ramming the vehicle until the couple lost control and fell. The young woman died instantly. Following the accident, Michele was arrested and charged with manslaughter.
Speaking at a press conference, Ciro said: “I saw Paola’s brother behind the scooter. He was kicking the vehicle. Paola told him to stop, ‘I’m here too, that’s enough’. He was not interested in Paola. He wanted to kill me. In fact, he hit me. If I hadn’t run away, he would have killed me.”
Daniela Falanga, the head of the Naples branch of Arcigiay [Italy’s national LGBT+ association], shares his belief that this wasn’t an accident. “I spoke to Ciro, the two youngsters had repeatedly had death threats,” Falanga said. “In a way, they were expecting what happened”.
Speaking to the investigators, Michele Gaglione admitted to chasing the couple on his motorbike but denied deliberately causing the accident. He said: “I didn’t mean to kill anyone, just teach her a lesson.”
The family of the victim also claim that Michele went out only to “convince his sister to come back home”, but he did not ram the scooter intentionally, and that this “was an accident.” They deny any claims that they didn’t accept the couple’s relationship because of Ciro being a trans man, stating they simply didn’t think he was the right person for Maria Paola.
The couple had been dating for three years. According to Ciro, Maria Paola’s family had never accepted their relationship because he is trans. He told investigators that the victim’s family used to say they were “two women”. He claimed that Maria Paola was often beaten up because she had been ‘infected’ by him and her family said they’d rather her be dead than in a relationship with him.
Maria Paola Gaglione’s funeral took place yesterday. Ciro couldn’t attend the funeral but was accompanied by police to visit the body of his partner before the ceremony. Outside the church, a poster was hung with a message from him reading: “We were running alone towards our freedom, or at least we thought we were, towards our great happiness. Wherever you are, my heart will be with you.”
The obituary posted by the victim’s family sparked huge backlash as they decided to include Michele’s name amongst the grieving relatives.
Following the accident, LGBT+ advocates in Italy have highlighted the urgent need for hate crime legislation and condemned the local press who often misgendered Ciro when reporting on the case, calling him “the victim’s girlfriend”.
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