ROME - Elton John has launched a blistering attack on the mayor of Venice over the city's withdrawal of books depicting same-sex families from the city's nurseries and primary schools.
The veteran British rock star, who has two sons with partner David Furnish, used his Instagram page to denounce newly-elected Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro's move.
"Beautiful Venice is indeed sinking, but not as fast as the boorishly bigoted Brugnaro," John, 68, wrote in an attack widely highlighted by Italy's media on Tuesday.
Brugnaro, who has also been attacked by Italian writers and publishers over his move, did not respond directly to the singer's attack.
Instead he contented himself with re-tweeting numerous messages of support, including some with an overtly homophobic tone, such as: "Listen, #eltonjohndotcom: we're protecting our children from people like you." Elected in June, Brugnaro initially removed 49 books from school libraries in line with an election pledge.
Following an outcry, many of them were subsequently deemed suitable for young children and returned to their libraries last month.
But works offering positive portrayals of same sex families, such as Francesco Pardi's "Piccolo Uovo" (Little Egg) and and Ophelie Texier's renowned French work "Jean a deux mamans" (Jean Has Two Mummies) remain banned.
Explaining his stance to La Repubblica in June, Brugnaro said he was representing mainstream opinion in the city.
"At home parents can be called Dad One and Dad Two, but I have to think about the majority of families where there is a mother and a father," he told the daily.
It is not the first time John has made waves in Italy over gay rights issues.
In March he called for a boycott of fashion brand Dolce and Gabbana after designer Domenico Dolce - who is gay himself - referred to babies conceived through IVF as "synthetic".