Half-naked models are commonplace on Italy's advertising hoardings but a kiss between two fully dressed men has caused a furore on the streets of its capital. In nord European country are photographs of scantily clad women more often used in advertising. And these two guys are fully clothed.
A series of billboards for "Ra-Re clothing" shot by veteran photographer Oliviero Toscani is causing controversy on the streets of Rome. The most controversial depicts two fully clothed men having a kiss on a sofa.
A spokesman for the parents association MOIGE said: "These posters are vulgar and a bad example for our children. It's not a matter of sexual orientation. They would be crass even if they featured a man and a woman." MOIGE wants these adverts banned.
Complaints have flooded in to the offices of Rome city council and an organisation called The Citizens Defence Movement has joined the chorus of criticism. "Obviously we respect homosexuality but it can be difficult to explain to young children", a spokesman said.
Yes, why explain things to children? Isn't it better to try keeping them in total ignorance? This seems the choice of the so-called "educators"...
Toscani, who was behind the controversial Benetton clothing company adverts and whose career has been built on shock tactics, was typically unrepentant. The 63-year-old photographer admitted he had taken advantage of the current debate in Italy about the legal and civil rights of gay couples.
He replied unapologetically: "There's a big discussion going on about homosexuality in Italy so I thought it was the right time to do something like this. I don't think it's vulgar. It's just two men having fun together. These parents who are complaining - their kids already know about this stuff. The Vatican is not too happy with me either but the church is an anachronism in the world today. I don't think it has any influence on young people."
Demands for the adverts to be withdrawn have had little success. A spokesman for Rome city council said it was not their job to decide what was morally acceptable in advertising.
With all luck, Pope Benedict XVI can see the advert from his bedroom window...