Elton John, the singer-songwriter known for his advocacy for gay rights, has strongly criticized Mayor Luigi Brugnaro of Venice, Italy, for banning 49 LGBT-themed children’s books from the city’s schools.
The Grammy Award-winning pop star slammed the mayor via a post on Instagram, featuring the cover image of Todd Parr’s “The Family Book,” which teaches children that there are many different kinds of families. John married his longtime partner, filmmaker David Furnish, in 2014; they have two sons.
“Here is one of the Furnish-John family’s favourite storybooks,” John wrote. “It champions an all-inclusive world where families come in all shapes, sizes and colours. And most importantly, that families are about love. Our boys adore it.”
John continued: “And in the opposing corner we have Luigi Brugnaro, the extremely silly looking mayor of Venice. He’s stupidly chosen to politicise children’s books by banning titles that touch on same sex families living happily ever after.”
Brugnaro banned dozens of children’s books from Venice schools in June, following through on an election promise he had made. The Telegraph reported that the banned books included “And Tango Makes Three,” the true story of two male penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo who raised a chick together.
The Guardian reported that Brugnaro’s decision didn’t sit well with Italian authors, 263 of whom signed a letter to the mayor demanding that their books be banned as well. “We don’t want to stay in a city where the books of others are banned,” the authors wrote.
Brugnaro explained his decision by saying it wasn’t his goal to discriminate. According to the Guardian, he told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that "[a]t 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.”
John, who owns an apartment on the Venetian island of Giudecca, isn’t buying Brugnaro’s explanation. “Beautiful Venice is indeed sinking,” his Instagram post concluded, “but not as fast as the boorishly bigoted Brugnaro.”