Rome, January 17 - Outgoing premier Mario Monti sparked criticism from gay groups Thursday after stating his opposition to same-sex marriage and adoption. Groups representing gays in Italy said that they were disappointed by the statement made one day earlier by Mont, who is campaigning for election next month at the head of a centrist coalition. "The statement is a bit too general for a leader who is inspired by Europe and aims to continue to lead the government of the country," said Fabrizio Marrazzo, spokesman for Rome's Gay Centre. Monti should be more specific about what kinds of unions and rights he would protect, said Marrazzo. "It seems that many politicians, including Monti, are more inclined to say 'no' to marriage and reaffirm that the family is only based on a heterosexual couple," he added. "In short, it is a way to discriminate against gay couples". It is also out of step with the progressive elements of Europe, said Andrea Maccarrone, president of the Circolo Mario Mieli. With his remarks, Monti "blows away any remaining illusions of...being considered a leader of European calibre". Monti told a television interview Wednesday night, "The family should be made up of one man and one woman, and I consider it necessary that children should grow up with a mother and a father". Puglia's left-wing, gay governor, Nichi Vendola, also chimed in with a remark recalling Monti's characterisation of him as a "conservative" opposed to the outgoing premier's market-boosting reform agenda. Vendola, the chief ally of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), said ironically, "thank goodness he was the progressive, and me the conservative". None of the main contenders in the elections has come out in favour of gay marriage or gay adoption rights, although PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani is in favour of bringing in Germany-style civil unions.