London: A top Italian history professor has caused outrage after he claimed that the Roman Empire fell due to the rise of homosexuality.
Roberto De Mattei, 63, a devout Roman Catholic, had already raised eyebrows by saying the Japanese tsunami was “divine punishment”, and now with his latest claim he faces calls to resign.
“The collapse of the Roman Empire and the arrival of the Barbarians were due to the spread of homosexuality,” the Daily Mail quoted the vice-president of Italy’s prestigious Centre for National Research as saying in a radio interview.
“The Roman colony of Carthage was a paradise for homosexuals and they infected many others. The invasion of the Barbarians was seen as punishment for this moral transgression.”
“It is well known effeminate men and homosexuals have no place in the kingdom of God.
“Homosexuality was not rife among the Barbarians and this shows God’s justice comes throughout history,” he stated.
Fellow historians, gay rights groups and politicians expressed their outrage over his claims.
“I have tabled an urgent call for the education minister to intervene,” Paola Concia, an MP with the Democratic Left, said.
Italian homosexual groups said the professor’s comments were “based on superstition, ridiculous and outrageous” and called on him to resign from his Rome-based post.
“It is highly improbable homosexuality led to the fall of the Roman Empire,” historian Emilio Gabba, a leading light in Roman history, said.
However, research would seem to suggest homosexuality was rife in ancient Rome, and it is widely portrayed in ancient Roman art and was seen as acceptable 2,000 years ago.
“There is no proof Rome had a high number of homosexuals. I can safely say Rome did not fall because it was gay,” Professor Lellia Cracco Ruggini, an expert on Roman history from Turin University, added.
First Published: Saturday, April 09, 2011, 13:05