Gay couple
The couple were told they weren't allowed to hug each other Reuters

A gay couple in Italy have expressed their shock after being told that they couldn't hug each other in public.

The 17 and 18-year-old who didn't want to be named, told Repubblica that they felt "intimidated" after being told by a lifeguard at the Lido Arcobaleno beach resort in Caserta, in the Campania region to stop hugging.

They said: "We were in the pool like everyone else.

"While we were in the water, like everyone else present, we also embraced, a spontaneous embrace, but we are two men and it was not appreciated."

The 17-year-old from Caserta explained how the lifeguard had asked them to be more "composed" as there were "children in the facility."

The couple also revealed that as they left the pool, the lifeguard told them that he would say the same thing to a heterosexual couple, but the pair pointed out that there were plenty of heterosexual couples who hadn't been asked to stop hugging.

Bernardo Diana is an LGBT activist who heads up the Caserta branch of the LGBT+ right group Rain Arcigay.

He was unhappy that these cases still existed, despite Italian law ensuring equal rights for LGBT+ people.

Diana called on the government to introduce new legislation to outlaw sexual discrimination.