Voters in Sicily late last month elected their first openly gay governor, Rosario Crocetta, who assumed office on Friday.

Crocetta is Italy's second openly gay governor. The southern region of Apulia first voted in Nichi Vendola in 2005.

However, Crocetta, a devout Catholic, has been knocked in the press for not publicly advocating for greater rights for the gay community, in particular marriage.

Unlike Vendola, who has said he would like the right to marry his partner, Crocetta said during the campaign that he would refrain from sex, if elected.

“If I were to become Sicily's president, I would say farewell to sex to consider myself married to my region and its inhabitants,” he said. “Leading public affairs is like entering a convent, and I have also become too old for such joyrides.”

In conservative Sicily, the comment was viewed as reinforcing negative stereotypes.

“He is ready to refrain from sexual intercourse in order to distance himself from the stereotypical promiscuous homosexual lifestyle,” Paola Bonesu, a political communication consultant, is quoted as saying by The Guardian.