Dolce & Gabbana put gay parents on handbags as Italy in heated debate

ROME (Reuters) - Italian fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have appeared to weigh in to an impassioned debate about gay people's rights in their home country with cosy designs showing same-sex couples with children.

Last year, Dolce angered many when he used the common derogatory term "womb rental" for surrogacy, which is banned in Italy. His comments were thought unlikely to harm sales, but drew threats of boycott from the likes of British singer Elton John. [L6N0WH0RM]

New social media posts suggested they had relaxed their views. Avid Instagram user Gabbana posted photos of handbags and t-shirts adorned with childlike drawings of family groups of two men or two women with children of various ages.

Feverish opposition to a bill currently before parliament to offer limited rights to same-sex and unmarried heterosexual couples is mainly focused on a provision that would allow gay people to adopt their partner's biological children.

Opponents fear this would open the way to surrogacy, which is banned in Italy. The term "wombs for rent" was a rallying cry at a mass demonstration against the bill in Rome on Saturday. [L8N15E0MO]

Another user commented "Volta&Gabbana" on the picture of the handbags, a pun on the Italian for "turncoat", or someone who switches allegiance between two causes. Gabbana replied "Yesss".

The pair, who remained business partners after their romantic relationship ended, have put pregnant models on the catwalk and are selling a t-shirt showing a cartoonish image of themselves with their dogs and cats, with #dgfamily on the back.

(Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)