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Gay groups wary about Berlusconi pledge for same-sex couples

07/01/2013

Activists call for concrete proposals

Gay groups wary about Berlusconi pledge for same-sex couples

(see related story) Rome, January 7 - Several Italian gay groups expressed wariness on Monday after ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi said the centre right would back legal recognition for couples who live together, including same-sex ones, if it wins next month's general elections. The Gay Center called for action, not words, and argued that the three governments Berlusconi led between 1994 and 2011 did "nothing" for gays. "We'll see if we're faced with a change of direction (from Berlusconi)," said Fabrizio Marrazzo of the Gay Center. "But concrete proposals are certainly necessary," he added, calling for the proposal to be put into the centre-right's manifesto. Arcigay President Flavio Romanialso also asked Berlusconi to put the pledge in "black and white" and said he had "legitimate suspicions" about such a "sudden change of course". The ex-premier, who has been at the centre of a series of sex scandals and is on trial in Milan for allegedly having sex with an underage prostitute, was blasted in 2010 for saying it was "better to like pretty women than be gay". Romani said his association's doubts also stemmed from comments Berlusconi made in 2011 in which he said he was against gay unions being given the same status as marriages between men and women. However, Enrico Oliari, the president of an association representing centre-right-supporting gays, welcomed Berlusconi's comments and said the 76-year-old media magnate had given a "lesson" to several centrist politicians, including outgoing Premier Mario Monti. "Berlusconi's opening-up over the recognition of gay couples is a piece of news you cannot fail to take account of," GayLib head Oliari said.