Berlusconi, the 76 year-old tycoon and Italy’s Prime Ministerial candidate, said during an interview on Radio Capital that ‘the left accuses me of everything except being gay and stealing money from Italians.
‘But I have a lot of gay friends. They’re friendly and funny’,he said on 31 December, 2012 according to AFP.
Berlusconi, has been the country’s prime minister three times since 1994, is standing in February’s upcoming elections.
Having lost his majority in parliament amid growing fiscal problems related to the European debt crisis, Berlusconi officially resigned as Italy’s Prime Minister on 16 November 2011.
Berlusconi has been convicted of tax fraud and impeached from being Italy’s president is on trial for having sex for money with an underage prostitute in 2010, although he denies these charges.
The billionaire media tycoon has been accused of homophobia several times in his long career.
In March 2011, Berlusconi declared stated that Italian gay couples would never be allowed to marry or have adoption rights.
In 2010 in response to accusations that he held orgiastic parties with hordes of young women, including underage prostitutes at his luxury villa he said: ‘It’s better to be passionate about beautiful women than to be gay’.
Recent polls give Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party only 15-16 per cent of the vote, compared to the centre-left Democratic Party with 30 per cent and outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti’s centrist coalition with 24 per cent.
Italy has one of the poorest legislative records regarding LGBT rights in Western Europe.