• Italy edition
 
Berlusconi speaks out in support of gay rights
Berlusconi is currently serving a sentence for tax fraud and appealing his conviction for paying for sex with an underage prostitute. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Berlusconi speaks out in support of gay rights

Published: 30 Jun 2014 12:34 GMT+02:00
Updated: 30 Jun 2014 12:34 GMT+02:00

The Forza Italia leader is not known for his support of gay rights but on Sunday made a rare expression of solidarity for Italy’s gay community.

“The [fight] for civil rights for homosexuals is a fight that in a truly modern and democratic country should be everyone's responsibility,” Berlusconi said, according to La Repubblica.

"As a liberal, I believe that through a broad and in-depth debate we can reach a reasonable objective for justice and civilization," the 77-year-old added.

Berlusconi made the statement the day after a number of Gay Pride marches were held across Italy, which saw tens of thousands of Italians take to the streets in support of gay rights. The remarks also came hours after his girlfriend Francesca Pascale and Vittorio Feltri, a journalist at Il Giornale, a newspaper owned by the Berlusconi family, signed up to Italy’s main gay rights organization Arcigay.

Writing in an editorial for the right-wing paper, Feltri said: “We are for freedom, without discrimination, convinced that it is necessary to overcome prejudice that generates misunderstandings, triteness and tedious and stupid insults.”

Responding to the news of its latest high-profile members, Flavio Romani, Arcigay’s President said: “Pleased to welcome Vittorio Feltri and Francesca Pascale among our members." But, he added, "membership to Arcigay also involves commitments.”

Berlusconi's statement appears to show a change in tune for the former prime minister who, in 2010 was infamously quoted as saying “my passion for women is better than being gay” as he fought of allegations of “bunga bunga” sex parties.

His remarks, which were widely reported in the international media, were immediately condemned by Arcigay. Speaking at the time, Arcigay's former president Paolo Patanè demanded an apology from Berlusconi, describing his attitude as “chauvinistic and vulgar”.

It is only one in a series of anti-gay gaffes. Further back in 2005 Berlusconi was quoted as saying: “In Italy only communists and gays are sanctified.”

Currently serving a sentence for tax fraud, convict Berlusconi is currently appealing his conviction for paying for sex with an underage prostitute and abusing his position as prime minister to get her out of jail.

The first appeal hearing fixed the date for the prosecution closing speech as July 11th, and said the verdict would be handed down on July 18th. 

Don't miss a story about Italy - join us on Facebook and Twitter

The Local (news@thelocal.it)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Immigration in Italy
Italy issues most permits in EU for family reasons
Ferries arriving in Genoa. The city is the first point of entry for many Moroccan citizens to Italy. Photo: Carlo Mirante/Flickr

Italy issues most permits in EU for family reasons

Italy last year granted more first-time residence permits to non-EU citizens for family reasons than any other EU country, a new report has revealed. READ  

Sport hero Cannavaro probed over €1m fraud
Fabio Cannavaro led Italy to glory in Germany in 2006. Photo: Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP

Sport hero Cannavaro probed over €1m fraud

UPDATED: Italy's World Cup winning captain Fabio Cannavaro is being investigated on suspicion of running a sham company to avoid paying more than €1 million in tax, Italian authorities announced on Wednesday. READ  

Italy steps closer to EU budget warning
Sending Italy and France back to the drawing board would be unprecedented for the EU.EU photo: Shutterstock

Italy steps closer to EU budget warning

Italy and France moved a step closer on Wednesday to having their budgets humiliatingly sanctioned by Brussels, with four other countries also in the EU danger zone, a European source said. READ  

Woman suffers racist 'Ebola' attack in Rome
The woman was helped by a group of people waiting at a bus stop. Bus photo: Shutterstock

Woman suffers racist 'Ebola' attack in Rome

A Guinean woman has been attacked on a Rome bus and accused of having the deadly Ebola disease, which has recently hit West Africa, Italian media reported on Wednesday. READ  

VIDEO
Semi-clad tourists dance in priceless fountain
The six French tourists were fined €269 each for their Dolce Vita-style bathing session. Screengrab: YouTube/Анастасия Потапенко

Semi-clad tourists dance in priceless fountain

A group of French tourists have been fined after they were caught dancing semi-naked in a priceless fountain in Rome’s Monti district. The whole scene was caught on camera. READ  

Sweet treat for Pope in Swiss Guard recipe book
David Geisser, 24, joined the elite Vatican security corps a month ago. Photo: David Geisser

Sweet treat for Pope in Swiss Guard recipe book

From an Argentinian dessert that translates as "milk candy" to Polish ravioli, a member of Vatican's famed Swiss Guard on Tuesday unveiled a range of recipes of dishes favoured by popes. READ  

China brings business to crisis-hit Italy
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (L) speaks with China's Prime Minister Li Keqiang during the tenth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in October. Photo: Daniel Dal Zennaro/AFP

China brings business to crisis-hit Italy

Centuries after Marco Polo showed how it was done, Italy is once again knocking on China's door. But rather than Italians going to China, today's pioneers are Chinese entrepreneurs heading to Italy in search of a holistic remedy for its economic ailments. READ  

Football
Verona sanctioned over Muntari racism abuse
AC Milan's Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari. Photo: Olivier Morin/AFP

Verona sanctioned over Muntari racism abuse

Verona became the first Serie A club this season to be sanctioned for racism after fans in the south stand of the Bentegodi stadium targeted AC Milan's Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari with abuse. READ  

Cool Italian scientists break world record
Absolute zero - considered the lowest possible temperature - is -273.15 Celsius. Temperature photo: Shutterstock

Cool Italian scientists break world record

An Italian lab has cooled a cubic metre of copper to within a tiny fraction of "absolute zero", setting a world record, the National Nuclear Physics Institute said on Tuesday. READ  

Italian police discover €1.7 bn corporate fraud
Photo: Guardia di Finanza

Italian police discover €1.7 bn corporate fraud

UPDATED: Italy's financial police on Tuesday said they had broken up a ring of companies they believe used false accounting to defraud the state out of €1.7 billion ($2.2 billion) of tax. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
Semi-clad tourists dance in priceless fountain
National
Singing nun picks Like a Virgin for debut album
National
Where's the best place to live in Italy?
National
Amorous Italian couple get stuck in frolic at sea
Culture
Test your Italian history with The Local's quiz
Travel
Top ten: Travel warnings for Italy
International
Revealed: The cost of home comforts in Italy
Health
Nurse 'killed 38 patients for being annoying'
Culture
Breaking Balsamic: See US writer's potent parody
Opinion
Is Italy a desirable place for foreigners to work?
Culture
Top ten: Things Italian mothers say
Society
Mayors vow to defy gay marriage registration ban
Travel
How well do you know Italy's geography?
National
Ten Italian 'false friends' you need to watch out for
International
Italian student tipped to win British X-Factor
Business & Money
Italy ranked ninth most desirable place to work
Education
Why Milan uni's English switch opened minds
National
The small Sicilian town with nine centenarians
National
What Rome could teach Paris and vice versa
National
President's barber: €99k state snippers overpaid
National
Is Italy really a bad place to grow old?
Education
Pisa storms into global uni rankings
National
Unruly Italy is EU's most disobedient country
National
Italy among worst places in EU to grow old
Travel
Brit in bid to set Milan metro travel record
International
Marriage scam: 179 Italian couples claim to live in British mail box
Politics
Italy's state barbers' pay trimmed...to €99,000
Politics
eBay users snub Italy’s luxury official cars
National
Udder joy: Italian man is world's best cow-milker
Business & Money
Chinese fashion titans look to Italy for value
National
Clooney wedding 'good news for the Middle East'
National
QUIZ: Test your Italian language skills
Education
Italy top of the class for teaching English
National
Italians offered €30 a day to host a migrant
Tech
Azerbaijan beats Italy in internet stakes
Society
Marriage scrapped due to 'mummy's boy' husband
Politics
Italy separatists unfazed by Scotland's 'no'
Culture
Ten 'rude' Italian phrases you can get away with
Health
7,000 apply for two nursing jobs in Veneto
Education
Mother laments number of 'foreigners' at school
Health
One quarter of Italian teens has tried cannabis
Travel
American tourists caught with Pompeii relic
National
Seven whales stranded on Italian beach
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

678
jobs available