Postcard from... Milan


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The Independent Online

Silvio Berlusconi, the three-time Italian Prime Minister, seemingly took on board the feelings of his fiancée, Francesca Pascale, who is part of the LGBT advocacy group Arcigay, by inviting a gay rights campaigner and former Communist MP, Vladimir Luxuria, to his mansion for dinner on Monday night.

It makes a change of outlook for Berlusconi under the young tutelage of Ms Pascale. Back in 2010, in widely reported remarks to a business audience, he said:  “It’s better to like pretty girls than be gay”.

Last month, the Italian news agency Ansa reported that Ms Pascale had called Berlusconi “a liberal” during a radio interview, and that he supported her fight for gay civil rights in the country.

Inevitable “selfies” appeared in the papers as proof of Berlusconi’s latest event in the villa at Arcore, best known for its owner’s “bunga bunga” parties. Ms Luxuria became Europe’s first openly transgender parliamentarian when she was elected to the Italian chamber of deputies in 2006 – serving until 2008. Over dinner, the topic of discussion was said to be gay rights.

Some observers suspected, however, that it was a ruse for Berlusconi to attract voters. Ms Luxuria was said to have called the meeting “a means  to an end”.