A male prostitute turned gay priest is awaiting approval from the Vatican to be allowed to stand as a candidate for Bloc Quebecois in a by election next month.

Raymond Gravel has been criticised by the Pope before over his support of gay priests, same sex marriage and abortion, but now needs the Holy See’s approval through his boss, the Bishop of Joliette, to run for election.

He is hoping to win the vacant seat in La Plaine, Montreal, after the former representative died, but admits he may be seen as unsuitable.

Mr Gravel, who became a priest after being beaten up as a rent boy, told Radio Canada: “If they say it’s incompatible, well clearly I will remain a priest and I won’t run.”

He announced his support for Bloc Quebecois, a party which campaigns for sovereignt of the Quebec province.

One member of the party told the Toronto Star: “It would be good to have God on our side.”

Pope Benedict XVI is known for his strict conservative attitude towards homosexuality.