Putin: If Berlusconi Were Gay, “Nobody Would Dare Touch Him”

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Sept. 19 2013 1:49 PM

Putin: If Berlusconi Were Gay, “Nobody Would Dare Touch Him”

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Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) joke as they prepare to have informal dinner in a tent in a wildlife preserve and recreation area near a residence of Zavidovo some 120 km north-west of Moscow, 03 February 2003

Photo by ALEXEI PANOV/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Francis may have made headlines today with surprisingly open-minded comments about homosexuality, but another world leader has gone in the opposite direction. Here’s what Vladimir Putin had to say today about his friend Silvio Berlusconi, who is currently appealing a conviction for having sex with an underage prostitute, as reported by Agence France Presse today:

"Berlusconi is on trial for living with women, but if he were a homosexual, nobody would dare touch him," Putin said during a discussion with international experts and journalists at the Valdai Club in the northwestern Novgorod region.

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The comment mirrors Berlusconi’s own defense of his actions in 2010, when he said, “ if occasionally I happen to look a beautiful girl in the face, it's better to like beautiful girls than to be gay.”

At the same conference, Putin denied that gays face discrimination in Russia and suggested that European countries reconsider their laws allowing gay marriage since "the Europeans are dying out ... and gay marriages don't produce children."

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog.