The mayor of Venice has been quoted as saying that he will try to ban Gay Pride parades in the city, provoking fury from gay rights activists.
"There will be no gay pride in my Venice," Luigi Brugnaro told La Repubblica newspaper, describing the event as farcical and kitsch.
However, he said he was not homophobic, insisting he had friends who were gay.
The head of an Italian gay rights group criticised the mayor and invited him to join the next Pride parade in Venice.
"We will be back next year and we invite the mayor to march at the head of the parade with us," Flavio Romani, from the Arcigay group, told AFP news agency. "That way he will see what a Gay Pride really is."
He accused the mayor of trying to impose his views on a "cosmopolitan city".
In the interview with La Repubblica newspaper (in Italian), Mr Brugnaro said he firmly opposed hosting the parade in Venice.
"Let them go and do it in Milan, or in front of their own homes," he was quoted as saying.
Mr Brugnaro earlier provoked controversy by withdrawing books that depicted same-sex families from Venice's nurseries and primary schools.
The British pop star Elton John was among those who condemned the move, calling the mayor "boorishly bigoted" in an Instagram post.
Mr Brugnaro responded on Twitter by accusing the singer of arrogance.
The businessman was elected as mayor in June on a centre-right platform.
- 29 August 2019