ROME, August 29, 2013 ( – A statement from the head of the Italian psychologists’ association, condemning those who have opposed the proposed “anti-homophobia” law as homophobes, is a case of “arrogant bullying” an Italian law professor has said in a scathing editorial.

Francesco D’Agostino, Professor of Philosophy of Law at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, said in an editorial in Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian Catholic Bishops, that the accusation is supporting an “an absurd paradigm” in which “some statements, such as those that support that homosexuality is a disease, should be deemed not only false…but deserving of social stigma and repression, if not downright criminal.”

The controversy stems from a statement issued this week by the President of the National Council of the order of psychologists, Luigi Palma, which said, “It is very serious that the detractors of the anti-homophobic laws repeat, among others, the idea that homosexuality is a disease to be cured and, consequently, that homosexual orientation can be changed.”

D’Agostino called Palma's statement “absolutely unconscionable” and noted that those who had opposed the bill for serious legal reasons had been exposed to “a variety of violent attacks, including some that were very crude from gay movements.”

Palma, in his attempt to shut down opposition, “is actually proving to be a valuable ally of those who believe that the true goal of a law against homophobia is to muzzle the freedom of scientific research and, more generally, of the free manifestation of thought,” D’Agostino added.

The claim made by Palma and others that homosexuality is normal and must never be subjected to psychological treatment is based on false premises, D’Agostino said.

“It should be remembered that, when in the now distant 1973, the American Psychiatric Association deleted homosexuality from the list of mental disorders, the question was simply removed, not resolved,” he said. “Especially as this deletion did not happen as a result of a adequate scientific debate, but only exhorting…subscribers to the Association to express themselves, through a vote, on whether to continue to consider homosexuality as an illness of psychiatric significance.”

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This process, he said, had nothing to do with objective science.

The editorial is the latest salvo in the controversy in the Italian media over comments by Giancarlo Cerrelli, a lawyer and vice president of the National Union of Italian Catholic Jurists, who said in a television news talk show that even with amendments, the proposed anti-homophobia bill “continues to seriously undermine the freedom of thought, opinion and religious freedom.”

The existing anti-discrimination legislation, Cerrelli said, “already widely protects, with precise rules, among other things, any abuse of homosexuals.”

In another response to Palma, the pseudonymous Elisha of the Desert, a popular Italian gay blogger, blasted Palma, saying that his insistence that homosexuality is normal is a capitulation to propaganda.

Elisha wrote a moving account of his own experience, saying, “Male homosexuality is in my opinion an acute shortage of love experienced during childhood, an affective immaturity, a net decline.”

He asked Palma not to close off the route to healing for homosexuals who want to take it, saying he was himself seeking a way “to be master of my life and feel accomplished as a male and if this means ‘healing,’ well, then, yes…I want to healed of this thing.”