ROME, June 5 (Reuters) - The right-wing government of Italy's Lazio region around Rome said on Monday it was withdrawing its backing from the capital's annual LGBT parade, drawing an angry response from rights activists and opposition politicians.
LGBT rights and gender equality in Italy have been a particularly sensitive issue since right-wing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni came to power around seven months ago vowing to combat what she called the "LGBT lobby".
The Lazio region's President Francesco Rocca, backed by Meloni's Brothers of Italy party, was elected in February, ousting the former centre-left administration.
The regional government said in a statement it could no longer support the "Roma Pride" event, due to be held on Saturday, because the organisers had publicly supported surrogate pregnancy, which is illegal in Italy.
Meloni's government has told mayors to stop registering the children of same-sex parents and her ruling coalition has presented a bill aimed at prosecuting couples who go abroad to have a baby via a surrogate, mainly targeting gay couples.
Mario Colamarino, the spokesman for the parade, said Rocca had bowed to pressure from the Catholic conservative lobby Pro Life and Family, and added that the event would defy his decision by continuing to use the regional government's logo.
Pro Life and Family welcomed Lazio's move and said it would "continue to monitor" the regional government to prevent it becoming "a vehicle for gender and LGBT ideology."
Rocca's decision was met with a chorus of protest from the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and other opposition groups.
Rome's PD Mayor Roberto Gualtieri said City Hall gave its full support to the Roma Pride event which was "important for the LGBT+ community and all citizens that fight discrimination."
Nicola Zingaretti, a former PD leader and Rocca's predecessor as Lazio's president, said he would be joining the march as always.
"We must never be afraid of those who stand up for people's rights. We must fight those who deny them," he wrote on Twitter.