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Italy senate speaker La Russa under fire over gay son comments

La Russa gave interview to Belve TV show.

Italy's senate speaker Ignazio La Russa is under fire after telling the RAI 2 television show Belve that he would be disappointed if his son came out as gay.

La Russa told the programme, set to air on Tuesday night, that he would "accept the news with regret, like if he were an AC Milan supporter", adding: "A straight father would like his son to be like him".

La Russa, 75, is a founding member of the far-right Fratelli d'Italia party of Italian premier Giorgia Meloni and was elected speaker of the Italian senate last October.

In the same interview with Belve host Francesca Fagnani he said "the aesthetic level of women in right-wing politics has decreased but the quality has increased."

His comments attracted widespread criticism on social media, including from the centre-left politician and gay rights activist Alessandro Zan whose bill aimed at fighting homophobia was rejected by the senate in 2021.

Zan labelled La Russa's remarks as "offensive and backward", telling news outlet Fanpage: "Having a father with busts of Mussolini in his home is always a disappointment", a reference to a video from 2018 in which La Russa displayed his private collection of Mussolini memorabilia.

The centre-left mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, wrote on Twitter: "I am the father of 3 children. The words of La Russa make me sad and worried about this country. As a father I would never want to have a child who is copy of me, but a person capable of thinking with freedom and conscience, free to love. Diversity is a value, not a limitation."

La Russa's words are "unacceptable, they exude superficiality and prejudice", wrote the centrist Azione party on Twitter, stating: "It's embarrassing that the state's second-highest office holder has an idea of a backward country and doesn't realise that this is how fuel is thrown on the fire of homophobia to the detriment of the LGBTQI+ community."

The prominent centre-left politician Laura Boldrini on Twitter described La Russa's remarks as "indecorous, especially for a president of the senate".

La Russa responded to the controversy on Tuesday, stating: "I read criticisms from those who haven't even seen the programme. I answered a question that having a gay son would be a small disappointment but not a problem."

Photo credit: Alessia Pierdomenico / Shutterstock.com

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