Gruppo P was the Itailian pro-pederast discussion group of Francesco Vallini, before he was jailed on made-up conspiracy charges. It was known to produce a newsletter.
Police surveiled the group's mail, and in April 1993 raided Vallini's home and the offices of Babilonia. In July 1993, they arrested Vallini on vague charges of "conspiracy to commit crimes" and of alleged sex with minors. Babilonia's protests that Vallini was purely a political prisoner fell on deaf ears. Conditions at Milan's overcrowded San Vittore prison were so bad that Vallini went on a hunger strike in late 1994 to protest, and had to be hospitalized. When authorities finally held a trial, they dropped the sex charge, leaving only a conspiracy count, based on Vallini's organizing, writing, and publishing. Vallini was convicted, but released in summer 1995, pending appeal. After his conspiracy conviction was upheld by a higher court and Vallini was ordered back to prison, he fled Italy, and now lives in exile. Italy's jailing of Vallini was protested in a draft of a report prepared in 1995 by the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based group which documents human rights abuses against members of the press. But the CPJ dropped Vallini's case from their report's final version. "His treatment was extremely unfair as it was handled by the Italian court," says Jeanne Sahadi, a CPJ spokesperson. "But it didn't meet our criteria as closely as we wanted." Vallini's case fell victim to the skittishness mainline human rights groups show around queer issues.
Tom O'Carroll, himself an open MAP and pioneer of the 1st wave of the MAP Movement, platformed a 38-year-old female MAP ally who had taken an active interest in Gruppo P and met its founder Vallini in 1989 at the age of 13, 4 years before his arrest. "Sylvie" is the author of two academic theses on Lewis Carroll and discusses her experience of Gruppo P in We fight for more than Love or Pleasure (2014). There, "Sylvie" wrote:
"I have wanted to write to you for a long time. I feel the time has now come. [...] I advocate for the decriminalisation of consensual sexual relationships between adults and children, and have relentlessly been doing so since I was 13. Does that make me the youngest activist who has ever lived? I was an intellectual child, listening to classical composers at 8, reading Oscar Wilde at 10 and EM Forster at 11. I was fortunate enough to have parents who granted me unconditional freedom. Yet not everyone was as sensible so I sometimes ended up surrounded by adults who mistakenly took me for a “poser” claiming that, at my age, I could not really understand what I was reading. [...] Truth is: my books were my best friends [...]
One day – I was 13 by that time – upon returning home from school, I found this magazine and I learned that behind the story of the girl who falls down a rabbit hole was an Oxford don who went by the name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, and that this whimsical, magical man happened to be, among other things, a lover of children. For the first time in my life the words “paedophile” and “paedophilia” appeared before my eyes. It struck a powerful chord deep inside, and my path has been clear to me since that day. To me it just seemed OK to love children and I could see nothing wrong with it, provided no coercion was exercised. I vividly recall looking at the image of Lewis Carroll and thinking to myself these very words: “I like you”. That was the start of a lifelong friendship between Mr Dodgson and I. It was also the start for me of my advocacy for the rights of paedophiles. Throughout the following year I researched the subject [...]
One day I noticed an ad in the Contact page of a gay magazine. In the ad it was stated that a pressure group called “Gruppo P” had been formed to promote discussion of intergenerational relationships and that anyone who was interested in joining was welcome to contact them. I immediately did. In my letter I explained that I was a 14-year-old, that I believed that consensual contacts between children and adults existed and could be desired by both parties, that such contacts did not necessarily result in harm, and that therefore this type of non-coercive relationships had to be decriminalised. I said I was willing to actively help and join the group. Soon afterwards I received a letter from the group’s founder, asking me to contact him at his work phone number, which I did. In retrospect I now think he wanted to make sure that I was who I claimed I was. When I called him we agreed to meet.
I was not scared. All I wanted to do was to go out and march, head up high, banner in hand, for the advancement of our cause (how much I miss the naivety of youth!) Unfortunately I was too young to formally join (minimum age required was 16) so I remained on the sidelines, eagerly waiting for the day when I could become a full member. Sadly, that day never came as the police investigated Gruppo P. The founder phoned to let me know the police might pay me a visit, although he believed that as I was a young girl they would not try to pursue a case against me. He was right: they never came. Not that I was intimidated by the thought of encountering them. On the contrary, I was eager to meet the police so I could “preach” the legitimacy of our cause (such is the folly of youth!).
The founder was in due course arrested, accused of “conspiracy”. I can testify that there were absolutely no illegal activities inside Gruppo P. Its aims were not criminal but political. Nevertheless the founder and others were arrested and held in custody awaiting trial: evidently the coming together of dissidents who challenged the current laws was considered a crime in itself. As we who hold these beliefs well know, Orwell’s concept of “thought crime” becomes a reality where discussion of paedophilia is concerned.
I recall very well the innuendos that were made. It was put about that an enormous quantity of illegal material had been found, but no such material circulated at Gruppo P! It was claimed that members were actively seeking children to groom, but l for one had never been approached in a sexual way. I was always treated as an equal; no one tried to take advantage of me.
What I also recall is the ugly ostracism of Gruppo P by the gay organisations. The police raid made their dearest dream come true: get rid of paedophiles. The gays said they “abhorred” paedophilia, insisting that homosexuals stand for sexual liberation and paedophiles are opposed to it because they force themselves on individuals who cannot consent.
I wanted to appear in court as a defence witness, but the lawyers ignored me, and my friend was eventually found guilty of conspiracy. In the following years I have seen or heard of former activists who have grown disillusioned, gone underground, given up…. For me, it is something I will never get over. I have seen or heard of too many people living a death-in-life: I cannot accept it; I will never accept it, and it brings me anguish.