Italian woman's coming out story sparks countrywide debate on homophobia

Expelled from her home after revealing her sexuality, Malika Chalhy's story has led to renewed conversation on homophobia in Italy.

A smiling young woman in a garden

Malika Chalhy’s story has captured the attention of the Italian public and created a fiery debate on homophobia in Italy.

Tired of hiding her identity and relationship, Malika poured her heart out in a letter to her family. In the letter, she revealed that she was LGBTQ+ and currently in love with a woman.

Her parents condemned her sexuality and same-sex relationship, reacting with threats and insults, many of which are recorded in voice messages now being investigated by Italian authorities. In a later interview, she remarked ‘I wrote a letter to my parents because I was afraid of a reaction. I was expecting a reaction, but not that strong.” 

Distressed and hurt by her family’s reaction to her coming out, Malika filed a complaint against her parents with the Italian Police. When returning home to retrieve her belongings all the locks had been changed preventing her from entering her home.

Malika subsequently left empty-handed and moved 30km from her hometown to nearby Florence where she was supported by her girlfriend and closest friends. It was also reported that her family have taken legal steps to disown her.

Malika began to share her experience and soon her story went viral on the internet and in Italian media. Several Italian celebrities reached out to Malika and news outlets such as Italy’s Vanity Fair reported on her story. She also appeared on an Italian talk show in which she recounted her experience and discussed homophobia in Italy today.

Malika’s cousin launched a GoFundMe campaign to help her “Build a future”. The original goal of the GoFundMe was to raise €10,000, but this has already been surpassed by €20,000 euros.

Importantly, Malika’s story has renewed calls for the progression of hate crime legislation in Italy which remains stagnant in the country’s parliament. Research by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights on LGBTQ+ people in Italy found that 62% of respondents avoid taking their loved ones by the hand and 30% do not go to certain places in fear of being attacked.

The investigation into Malika’s situation is continuing.

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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