Elton John Venice row: Mayor defends same-sex book decision

British singer-songwriter Elton John performs with his band during a concert in Gijon, July 17, 2015 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Elton John called Venice's mayor "boorishly bigoted"

Venice's mayor has hit back after singer Elton John attacked the city's decision to withdraw books featuring same-sex couples from schools.

Luigi Brugnaro removed 49 books from school libraries after being elected in June, though some have been reinstated.

In an Instagram post, John, who has two children with his husband, called Venice's mayor "boorishly bigoted".

Mr Brugnaro has now defended his decision and called the British singer "arrogant" in a series of tweets.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Luigi Brugnaro tweeted that he had "no problem with homosexuals"

He told John, who has a house in Venice, to contribute more to the city, and said he "represented the arrogance of someone who is rich and can do whatever they want".

Mr Brugnaro, who says he belongs to neither the left nor right, also said he had "no problems with homosexuals" and was "a free man" who was not afraid of insults.

His election pledge to withdraw the books featuring same-sex couples and gender issues attracted controversy.

"I have to think about the majority of families where there is a mother and a father," Mr Brugnaro said.

More than 250 Italian authors asked Venice's authorities to remove their books from libraries as a gesture of solidarity.

While many of the books were returned to school libraries, some were not, including Francesca Pardi's Piccolo Uovo (Little Egg), about an egg that discovers new types of families.

Ophelie Texier's French book Jean a Deux Mamans (Jean Has Two Mummies) is also still banned.

Image copyright Instagram/eltonjohn

John's Instagram post said Mr Brugnaro was "extremely silly-looking".

"Instead of encouraging a world based on inclusiveness, tolerance and love, he's championing a future society that's divisive and fosters ignorance," he wrote.

"Beautiful Venice is indeed sinking, but not as fast as the boorishly bigoted Brugnaro."

In March, John called for a boycott of the fashion brand Dolce and Gabbana after the designers made what he called "archaic" comments on in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and same-sex parents.

In an interview with Italian news magazine Panorama, the designers called children born of IVF "synthetic" and said they opposed adoption by same-sex parents.

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