Despite the rain, about 20-30 Deaf people from the Bay Area gathered at the Consulate General of Italy in San Francisco this afternoon to protest the Italian government’s proposal to change the name of Italian Sign Language (Lingua dei Segni Italiana – LIS) to the Language of Mime and Gestures (Linguaggio Mimico-Gestuale – LMG). This change is currently being considered by a committee.
The Deaf Italian community had originally been seeking official recognition of LIS when the government proposed the change. If adopted, the change will set the Italian Deaf community back by decades. The bill is currently making its way through Parliament and has one more stage to go.
Local leaders and activists, including Ella Mae Lentz, Sheri Farinha, Jim Brune, Judy Gough, Kristen Weiner, Kevin Clark, Vadim Milman and Butch Zein, met with the Italian General Consulate during the protest to voice concerns.
“The General Consulate was nice,” reported Ella Mae Lentz after the meeting. ” [he] did his homework before meeting with us. He called the DC Embassy which makes the direct contacts with Italy and they researched the laws. We made sure he understood that if [they] ever use LMG, it’d be insulting and inappropriate and must not be in the law at all. He did. He said LIS is a minority language trying to achieve formal recognition which is right.”
Similar protests were held today at Italian Embassies and Consulates in Berlin, Rome, Madrid, London, Belfast, Dublin and Washington, DC.
[Photos courtesy Jim Brune]
Sign the International Petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/no-lmg-forza-lis