The Director of the Vatican Press Office has claimed that the Roman Catholic Church supports the human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people.

Fr Federico Lombardi attacked the formal declaration to be read out at the UN next week calling on international human rights mechanisms to promote and protect human rights of all people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

54 nations support the declaration, among them all 27 EU member states, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

The Vatican’s observer at the UN claimed last week that the declaration will somehow be used to force countries to recognise same-sex marriage.

“If adopted, they would create new and implacable discriminations,” said Monsignor Celestino Migliore.

“For example, states which do not recognise same-sex unions as ‘matrimony’ will be pilloried and made an object of pressure.”

The declaration makes no mention of gay marriage or civil partnerships.

“We urge States to take all the necessary measures, in particular legislative or administrative, to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests or detention,” it states.

“We urge States to ensure that human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity are investigated and perpetrators held accountable and brought to justice.

“We urge States to ensure adequate protection of human rights defenders, and remove obstacles which prevent them from carrying out their work on issues of human rights and sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Vatican Radio reports that Fr Lombardi said: “no-one can or wants to defend the death penalty for homosexuals, as some people aim to insinuate.

“The well-known principals of respect for the fundamental rights of the person and the refusal of all forms of unjust discrimination – which are also clearly enshrined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church – not only exclude the death penalty, but all forms of penal legislation that are violent or discriminatory towards homosexual persons.

“Archbishop Migliore’s concerns were regarding another issue, not the decriminalisation of homosexuality per se, but the introduction of a declaration of political value, which could result in control mechanisms according to which, norms that do not place each sexual orientation on the same level, would be considered contrary to respect for human rights.”

The declaration will be read out during the 15th to 20th December session of the UN General Assembly.