Depiction of homosexuality in a Roman artwork

An Italian academic is under pressure to resign after he claimed in an interview that gays were the cause of the collapse of the Roman Empire.

In the interview with a religious radio channel, Professor Roberto De Mattei, who is vice-president of Italy’s Centre for National Research, said: “The collapse of the Roman Empire and the arrival of the Barbarians was due to the spread of homosexuality”.

De Mattei, 63, known to be a devout catholic, added: “The invasion of the Barbarians was seen as punishment for this moral transgression. It is well known that effeminate men and homoexuals have no place in the Kingdom of God. Homosexuality was not rife among the Barbarians, and this shows that God’s justice comes throughout history, not at the end of time.”

De Mattei has previously claimed that recent natural disasters in Japan were “divine punishment”.

Other academics have disputed De Mattei’s statements about the Roman Empire and LGBT rights groups have called on him to resign.

An opposition MP, Paola Concia, said that she has tabled a call for the country’s education minister to step in and intervene.

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