The Italian Premier, Mario Monti, who is backed by the Vatican for his re-election bid, has said that gay rights issues, including marriage equality, should be decided by parliament, not his government, if he is successful.

Monti, who was sworn in on 16 November 2011, said in a TV interview that issues concerning personal dignity were more important than economic reforms, the Associated Press reports.

He did however go on to say that his coalition, which includes pro-Vatican centrists, came together with a view to tackling the more “urgent” issue of economic growth in the midst of Italy’s economic recession.

Without expressing a personal view on marriage equality, Monti said that the new parliament will play a greater role than the government in dealing with gay rights issues.

Equal marriage is currently not permitted in Italy, and the Vatican, which carries a lot of influence in Italian politics, is very strongly opposed to same-sex marriage.

This weekend, in not the first attack of its kind, the semi-official newspaper of the Vatican likened global moves towards marriage equality to 20th century socialist promises which “deceived humanity”.

In December, gay rights campaigners held a protest near St Peter’s Square, during the Pope’s weekly prayers, after he said that legalising marriage equality “threatened the institute of marriage”.

In a message for World Day of Peace 2013, the Pope described same-sex marriage as a threat to justice and peace, adding that it will spark harm for society.

He was also pictured giving a blessing to Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, who promised to pass the country’s notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill as a “Christmas gift”.

Earlier this year, the Italian Premier, as well as other global heads-of-government, received chocolates and flowers as part of a campaign to “remind” politicians that gay and lesbian couples had “no rights”.

Former Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, a candidate in the election, recently said his opponents had accused him of everything “except being gay and stealing money from Italians.” Prior to that, in March 2011, Berlusconi declared that gay couples in Italy would never be allowed to marry or have adoption rights.

The Italian general election will take place on 24–25 February 2013.