Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Berlusconi tries to deflect sex scandal with quip about gays

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has tried to laugh off a growing scandal and calls for his resignation over a relationship with a teenage girl. Instead, he triggered a new uproar with an anti-gay comment.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi brushed off a growing scandal over his relationship with a young girl on Tuesday, but drew fresh criticism for a comment about homosexuality.

"When I'm in the presence of a beautiful girl, I look at her," he said at the opening of a motorcycle industry show in Milan. "It's better to have a passion for beautiful girls than to be gay."

Gay rights activists and opposition center-left politicians condemned the remark.

Paolo Patane, president of the gay rights group Arcigay, said it was "gratuitous" and "vulgar." "It offends not only homosexual people but also women in general."

Actress Julianne Moore was in Rome to present the "The Kids Are All Right," a film about a lesbian couple and their teenage children, at the Rome Film Festival and reacted with dismay to Berlusconi's statement.

"I think it's unfortunate, archaic and idiotic," she said. "To hint or say that there is something wrong with homosexuality … it's unfortunate and it's embarrassing when people continue to perpetuate these untruths."

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