Italian gay rights groups have said the case of a chorister forced to leave his choir due to being gay proves the countries need for anti-homophobia laws.

Twenty year old Alberto Ruggin was dismissed by his priest after featuring on a television programme where he revealed his sexuality.

His priest, Don Paolino Bettanin, from the northern Italian town of Padua, claimed he was “disgusted” by the whole affair, but added that he had suspected it.

“I tried to explain to him that a true Christian respects everybody. He accused me of not revealing my sexuality sooner, but admitted he had suspected it. The truth is that he’s scared of what people might say. So, I’m turning to the Bishop.” Mr Ruggin told Reuters.

He had sung in the church choir since he was thirteen and was openly gay with his family, who had urged him to come out.

Paolo Bonolis, one of Italy’s best loved TV personalities, who presented the program described Ruggin as having “extraordinary courage in a highly discriminative world.”