Silvio Berlusconi backs Catherine Deneuve in male courtship dispute

Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi has praised Catherine Deneuve for warning against a courtship backlash following the swell of sexual misconduct allegations against prominent men.

In a late-night talk show, Mr Berlusconi said the French actress had pronounced "holy" words in saying men should be free to "hit on" women.

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Mr Berlusconi, known for his "bunga bunga" parties and fondness for younger women, joked that usually women hit on him, but it was only "natural" that women enjoy being courted by men.

He said: "It's not an offence to court women if it stays in the realm of elegance."

Mr Berlusconi has long characterised his sex-fuelled "bunga bunga" parties as "elegant soirees".

He has not faced sexual assault allegations.

A 2013 conviction for paying for sex with an under-age girl was overturned on appeal.

- AP

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