Candidates of Italy’s centre-right party, Fratelli d’Italia, have been criticised for making a homophobic political advertisement on YouTube.

In the video, which has now been removed, Senate candidate Raffaele Zanon and House candidate Alberto Romano Pedrina from the party’s local Padua branch hold up signs saying: “Vote with your head, vote with your heart, not with your ass,” and finally, “we love women, especially Giorgia Meloni,” reports ANSA.

The advertisement is a parody of a YouTube video made by an Italian gay couple telling the story of how they met and fell in love. Through a series of signs, the couple explain: “We want to get married, because I love him … But it will be in New York, because the laws in Italy won’t allow us to do it here.”

Fratelli D’Italia candidate Giorgia Meloni, who was referenced in the anti-gay video, has distanced herself from the advertisement and called on Mr Zanon and Mr Pedrina to apologise.

“I asked the creators (of the video) to take it down immediately and to say that they are sorry…We reaffirm our condemnation of any kind of homophobia,” she explained.

Ms Meloni also called the video “a vulgar and superficial initiative…that is not part of the culture of the Fratelli D’Italia Party.”

The Fratelli D’Italia Party is running with former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right coalition in upcoming elections.

Despite recent equal marriage advances in the UK and France, gay couples in Italy are currently banned from adopting or entering into same-sex marriages.