ROME – The Italian government was ordered to pay $160,000 to a gay man who received a driver's license for the disabled after he declared his sexual orientation on an official form, the man and a gay-rights group said Monday.
Danilo Giuffrida, 27, said he told officials about his homosexuality when he took a physical after being called up in 2000 for Italy's mandatory year of military service, which has since been abolished. Giuffrida told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from his hometown, Catania, that he had hoped to avoid service and keep working to help support his family.
Giuffrida was disqualified for psychological reasons.
"It's the old assumption that if one is homosexual then he is also psychologically disturbed," said Aurelio Mancuso, president the main Italian gay rights group, Arcigay.
Giuffrida's lawyer, Giuseppe Lipera, said a military official sent his client's paperwork to motor-vehicle officials in Catania, who changed his standard driver's license to one for the disabled.
Giuffrida said the disabled license must be renewed every year instead of every 10 years, as is the case for standard licenses.
"Some overzealous officer took upon himself the task of sending the paperwork" to the motor vehicle office, Lipera said. "Evidently, they thought that his sexual preferences were a mental disorder."
A judge in Catania, Sicily, ordered the transport and defense ministries to pay damages to Giuffrida in a ruling handed down last week. The ministries issued no immediate comment Monday and the court that issued the ruling was closed.
Arcigay praised the court ruling and said it hoped the case would raise awareness about discrimination.
"In Italy, we still need to understand that differences among people make a country richer, not poorer," Giuffrida said. He did not say if his standard license had been restored.
He said that he will use some of the money to buy a car.