Called “words can also kill”, the campaign was launched in parliament by Laura Boldrini, president of Italy’s lower house.
Created by design studio Armando Testa, the campaign features portraits of people being “shot” through the head with offensive words.
The posters are due to be distributed to parish churches, youth clubs and schools in a bid to tackle discrimination.
“Discrimination will not find fertile ground where there is culture and education, [discrimination] which increases when individual difficulties and fears dominate,” said Massimo Calvi, managing director of Catholic newspaper Avvenire, which is supporting the project.
The campaign includes an image of a black man and the word “negro” (above), which when used as an offensive racial slur is approximately equivalent to “nigger” in English.
A photograph of an Arab man includes the word “terrorista” (“terrorist”). More than a third of Italians are scared that Arab men in airports are terrorists, according to figures from Avvenire.
Another poster features a woman from the Roma community being hit by the word “ladra” (“thief”). The vast majority of Italians - 83 percent - protect their wallet if they see a Roma person on the bus, Avvenire said.
The fourth image in the series includes an overweight man, with his head crumbling from the word “ciccione” (“fatso”). A total of 35 percent of overweight people have suffered discrimination.
The campaign is also supported by Christian Family magazine (Famiglia Cristiana) and Fisc, the federation of Italian Catholic weeklies.