Embattled Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi defended his questionable penchant for befriending young women, saying, "It's better to be passionate about beautiful girls than gay."
Berlusconi made the remark in Milan on Tuesday as criticism mounted over reports that he intervened to request the release of a young woman detained by police in May.
According to Dow Jones Newswires, “The case emerged last week when Italian newspapers reported that the young woman, nicknamed ‘Ruby,’ attended parties at Berlusconi's villa earlier this year. Berlusconi had dismissed the reports as "trash," but acknowledged he knew of Ruby and that his office intervened on her behalf after learning she had been arrested.”
Berlusconi, a free-speaking media mogul who leads an increasingly fractious center-right coalition, is trying to fight the possibility of early elections. A popular opposition leader, Puglia governor Nichi Vendola, is gay, Dow Jones reports.