Italy PM Meloni's partner faces backlash for TV comment on rape

Giambruno attends Meloni's swearing-in ceremony at Quirinale Palace, in Rome

ROME (Reuters) - The partner of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has been accused of victim blaming after comments he made about rape on his television talk show.

Andrea Giambruno, who hosts the "Diario del giorno" (Daily diary) programme on the Rete 4 commercial station, was commenting after a gang rape of a young woman in the Sicilian capital Palermo hit the headlines.

"If you go dancing, you have every right to get drunk - there shouldn't be any kind of misunderstanding and any kind of problem - but if you avoid getting drunk and losing your senses, you might also avoid running into certain problems and coming across a wolf," he said in his programme on Monday evening.

Opposition politicians condemned the comments.

"I say to Giambruno that boys should be educated to show respect, rather than girls taught to be careful. Teach them (males) the value of consent, rather than girls to be wary," said Cecilia D'Elia, a senator with the opposition Partito Democratico.

Giambruno, whose television career has taken off since Meloni became the head of a right-wing government last October, said his comments had been taken out of context to create a "surreal" controversy.

"I didn't say that men are free to rape women who are drunk," he told Corriere della Sera in an interview on Wednesday.

"Some politicians are jumping on a false headline and calling for my suspension, but for what reason? For having told young people not to take drugs?" he added.

Meloni, who has a young daughter with Giambruno, has not commented on the situation.

It is not the first time that Giambruno's comments have caused controversy.

In July, he told German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach "to stay at home, stay in the Black Forest", after Lauterbach questioned the viability of tourism to southern Europe because of intense heat waves.

(Reporting by Alvise Armellini and Keith Weir; Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by Gavin Jones and Mike Harrison)