The BBC has defended its decision to broadcast from a church that has been an inspiration to gay, lesbian and transgender Catholics around the world.

This Sunday BBC Radio 4’s Morning Worship programme will come from the Catholic parish of the Most Holy Redeemer, in San Francisco’s gay Castro district.

The parish offers a “spiritual home” to all, including LGBT church members and parishioners with HIV/AIDS.

MediaWatch, previously Mary Whitehouse’s National Viewers and Listeners Association, has said the radio programme is offensive.

The BBC defended the show, stressing that Morning Worship’s strength is its diversity. It draws two million listeners every week.

“This programme comes from the largest and oldest predominantly gay area in the world, from a Catholic community which has an experienced and developed understanding of the issues of being gay and Christian,” a spokesman said.

Father Donal Godfrey SJ of the University of San Francisco will preside, and James Alison, a British theologian and author of “Is it Ethical To Be Catholics? – Queer Perspectives,” will also be preaching.

A statement from the Roman Catholic section of the lesbian and gay Christian Movement in the UK said:

“It is the style of ministry and liturgy at places such as MHR that influenced many of us familiar with these parishes, and so inspired us to develop the kind of parish-set ministry with LGBT Catholics that we now celebrate in Central London.”

William Joseph Levada, now the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the former Archbishop of San Francisco, allowed this parish to continue operation, although the congregation is mainly gay and lesbian.

The service was recorded in October and will be broadcast at 8:10am on Sunday on BBC Radio 4.