General Vannacci was removed as head of the Military Geographical Institute in Florence after the controversy surrounding his book. Within the book he wrote that homosexuals were “not normal”.
An Italian army general who made anti-gay remarks in a self-published book was removed from his post on Friday. The officer, General Roberto Vannacci, was sacked as head of the military geographical institute in Florence.
The decision was taken by army high command.
Defence Minister Guido Crosetto on Thursday promised disciplinary action against the general for making homophobic remarks and lashing out at feminism, migrants and environmentalism.
After he was relieved of his command, Vannacci said he stood by his words and the Italian Constitution protected free speech.
“The Constitution guarantees freedom of speech. No incitement to hatred from me. I do not feel like backtracking, I claim what I wrote. I never use vulgar or trivial words; I freely express my thoughts,” said General Roberto Vannacci commenting on ‘Diario del Giorno’ on Rete 4 on his removal.
Before his sacking, Vannacci responded to the furore by saying he was not bothered by the criticism. However, he was aggrieved his words have been taken out of context. “Criticism does not bother me and I am not going to reply to Minister Crosetto”, he said. “I will follow (the minister’s) instructions,” Vannacci continued. “What upsets me is the instrumentalisation: sentences have been taken out of context and used to construct stories that do not emerge from the book,” he said. “I am saddened by the decontextualisation and the trial of opinions,” Vannacci concluded.
Who is Roberto Vannacci?
Vannacci was the former commander of Task Force 45 during the war in Afghanistan. He was also the former commander of Folgore, former commander of Col Moschin (special unit that carries out strategic incursions in highly dangerous areas) and former commander of the Italian contingent in Iraq.
He was considered within military circles to be a valiant “soldier in the service of the state” .
In 2020, the general was also deployed as a defence attaché to the Russian Federation. His assignments there were to Belarus , Armenia and Turkmenistan. That post terminated in 2022 as he was declared “persona non grata” by the Russian authorities following the outbreak of war.
His brilliant rise – studded with national and international honours – led him to the Italian Military Geographical Institute (IGMI). The institute is the historic cartographic body in Florence. His resume on the IGMI site states Vannacci is fluent in English, French, Romanian, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian. He also has three degrees (in strategic sciences, international sciences and military sciences).
In 2020, Vannacci tried to highlight the problem of the exposure of the Italian military to depleted uranium in Iraq. His denunciation embarrassed the Ministry of Defence who, for years, maintained the non-existence of such a health threat.