Members of the European Parliament have called on the Vatican to support a statement on lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans rights to be read out at the United Nations next week.

The Holy See has observer status at the UN.

Church officials have attacked the formal declaration calling on international human rights mechanisms to promote and protect human rights of all people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

55 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.

The European Parliament’s LGBT Intergroup said the Vatican “must end its resistance to ending discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people” and back the UN statement.

“We are born equal and all people should be treated equally,” said Michael Cashman, MEP for the West Midlands and President of the Intergroup.

“The Vatican has a sad history of intolerance on these issues and whilst I respect the beliefs of others these beliefs should not be imposed on or used to deny people equal treatment or civil liberties.

“The Vatican should teach the word of Jesus Christ and not the values of the Old Testament.

“It is worth noting in these harsh economic times that there are approximately 30 references to Usury as a sin and approximately three references to homosexuality as a sin!

“If the Vatican is serious in implementing policy based on the Old Testament then it should call for the closure of banks, Building societies and credit card companies.”

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

Vatican Radio reported 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 (Vatican’s observer at the UN) 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 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.”

The statement will be read out during next week’s meeting of the UN General Assembly.