Two Italian politicians have caused outrage in the country after placing a pair of dolls representing a gay couple in the parliament nativity scene.

The Radical Party’s Bruno Mellano and Donatella Porretti admitted the stunt and said it was to show support for gay union laws being proposed in the country.

Their prank has been condemned by right wing figures as well as the Vatican, the Associated Press reports.

The right wing Forza Party described it as “vulgar and unacceptable” in a statement.

Vatican politician Rosy Bindi called in “a useless provocation against the nativity of the Chamber of Deputies that hurts us as Christians and as citizens of this country.”

The dolls were removed immediately, the ANSA news agency reports.

Romano Prodi came to power in April promising civil partnership style laws for the gay community as well as heterosexual cohabiting couples.

Earlier this month, Padua city council outraged the Vatican by allowing gay and lesbian couples to register their ‘family.’ The law also applies to unmarried heterosexual couples.

It comes after conservative students at the University of Texas created a novel Nativity scene, with a gay couple called Gary and Joseph standing in for the Holy Family.

The Young Conservatives group at the university’s Austin campus said the alternative scene is a protest at what they perceive to be anti-Christian bias.