A right-wing Italian cabinet minister has defended remarks in which he said that a lobby of homosexuals--whom he referred to as "fags"--has too much influence in the European Union, a newspaper reported Wednesday. Asked why he did not use the neutral term "homosexual" in place of the vulgar Italian word he chose, Mirko Tremaglia, minister for Italians abroad, told Corriere della Sera: "Well, I'm from the country, and I say 'fags.'"
Tremaglia's office issued a statement Tuesday complaining about a European Parliament committee's decision not to endorse Italy's nominee to become EU justice and home affairs commissioner. Days earlier, nominee Rocco Buttiglione had testified that he considers homosexuality a sin. "Unfortunately, Buttiglione lost," the statement said. "Poor Europe. The fags are in the majority."
"I'm simply defending Catholic values, which my mother and father taught me. In my house to be a homosexual was something strange, it wasn't good," said Tremaglia, a member of the National Alliance, a party with a neo-Fascist past. Buttiglione thanked Tremaglia for his solidarity. "But if he truly used these words, I really think he exaggerated," Corriere quoted Buttiglione as saying.