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Elton John and Venice mayor feud over removal of gay children's books

MILAN -- Elton John has slammed Venice's conservative mayor over moves to remove books from public preschools dealing with gender issues and featuring same-sex couples.

The singer, who has a home in Venice, called Mayor Luigi Brugnaro "boorishly bigoted" in an Instagram post following the removal of some books from preschools pending an evaluation of their appropriateness.

He posted a photo of the cover of a book called "The Family Book" by Todd Parr, whose description reads on Amazon: "Whether you have two moms or two dads, a big family or a small family, a clean family or a messy one, Todd Parr assures readers that no matter what kind of family you have, every family is special in its own unique way."

John wrote of the book, "Here is one of the Furnish-John family's favourite storybooks. It champions an all-inclusive world where families come in all shapes, sizes and colours ... 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."

The comment sparked a feud and tirade from Brugnaro. He wrote back on Tuesday on Twitter, saying "The challenge is to give real resources for saving #Venice," adding in dialect: "Let's get to facts, out with the cash #Elton John."

The mayor in a statement last month voiced reservations about the books "Little Egg," whose protagonist meets non-traditional families, and "Jean Has Two Mothers." He said it would be decided over the school break who would make the selections "to avoid further diatribes."

He tweeted on Tuesday that Venice does not want to create sexual confusion for children. He also claimed that while he wants to protect children from sexual confusions, he has absolute respect for homosexuals. But he also retweeted users who called the removed books "disgusting," and he retweeted tweets praising him from Italian Manif Pour Tous chapters, a conservative anti-gay marriage organization from France.