Queen Sofia of Spain has caused outrage among gay groups after extracts from a new biography show she is hostile to gay people.

The wife of King Juan Carlos, a cousin of the British Royal Family, questioned the need for Pride parades and criticised lesbian and gay couples for “dressing up” as bride and groom.

Spain legalised gay marriage in 2005.

El Pais newspaper published extracts from The Queen Up Close yesterday.

“I can understand, accept and respect that there are people of other sexual tendencies, but should they be proud to be gay?

“Should they ride on a parade float and come out in protests? If all of those of us who aren’t gay came out to protest we would halt traffic,” the 69 year old Royal said.

“If those people want to live together, dress up like bride and groom and marry, they could have a right to do so, or not, depending on the law of their country, but they should not call this matrimony, because it isn’t.

“There are many possible names: social contract, social union.”

The Roman Catholic Church in Spain has been hostile to gay rights.

At the end of December Pope Benedict XVI addressed a “family values” rally in Madrid by a videolink from Rome.

He told the crowd, estimated at 150,000 people, that the family is “based on the unbreakable union of man and woman and represents the privileged environment where human life is welcomed and protected from the beginning to its natural end.”

Gay rights groups in Spain have criticised the Queen’s comments.

“Many mothers of gays and lesbians are going to ask why the Queen understands that the Prince would marry a divorced woman, but she can’t understand why other mothers wouldn’t want that same happiness of marriage for their children,” said the State Federation of Lesbians, Gays and Transsexuals president Antonio Poveda.