According to a story published on Thursday, the chief executive officer of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the largest humanitarian network in the world, has decided to step down in the wake of a dispute in Italy about the Rome Pride event.
After the controversy in Italy, where he leads the right-wing administration of the Lazio region that encompasses Rome, Francesco Rocca has decided to step down as the chairman of the International Federation for the Red Cross (IFRC).
As of the beginning of this month, the government of Lazio terminated its funding of Rome Pride, citing the event’s too political nature as the reason.
According to a source from the ATS news agency in Switzerland, the news of Rocca’s decision to retire has been distributed internally.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has announced that Rocca will continue to serve as its president until an extraordinary general assembly is held to pick his replacement.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies did not immediately reply to AFP’s request for comment.
Rocca, who is 57 years old, was chosen president of the IFRC in 2017, and he was re-elected in 2022.
Rocca expressed his “great sadness” and stated that he wished to “protect the organization” in a letter that he sent to the national societies and the secretariat of the IFRC, according to ATS.
He also intended to protect the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) from any potential “manipulations” of his actions as president of the Lazio government.
Rocca had previously stated that the name of the Lazio region “cannot, nor will it ever, be used to support actions aimed at promoting illegal behavior,” notably surrogacy. This statement was made in reference to the decision to not sponsor the Rome Pride event.
Earlier this month, the event that was part of Rome Pride 2023 had the topic “QueeResistenza” as its central focus.
Since the far-right administration of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni entered office in October, activists have been criticizing what they refer to as “multiple attacks” on the LGBTQ community in Italy.
In the beginning of this year, Rocca won the election for the position of regional governor in Lazio with the support of Meloni’s coalition, which positions itself as a champion of “traditional” family values.
A proposal that would extend Italy’s existing prohibition on surrogacy to include Italians who go overseas to locate a surrogate mother has been proposed by the far-right Brothers of Italy party, which is the party of the Italian premier.
Rome Pride’s public remarks, which include requests for the rights of same-sex couples to adopt children or access fertility treatment, as well as appeals for the legalization of surrogacy, were deemed to “violate the conditions” of Rome Pride’s sponsorship by the region of Lazio. Rome Pride was therefore stripped of its sponsorship.
Roberto Gualtieri, a left-leaning politician who is the mayor of Rome, criticized the decision and stated that the municipal authorities will continue its support.