Gay humanist groups are planning to hold “strong” protests when Pope Benedict XVI visits the UK early next year.

Pope Benedict has been critical of homosexuality in the past and the Pink Triangle Trust and the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) are calling for demonstrations against his views.

Similar protests were held when Pope John Paul II visited Britain in 1982.

GALHA members are to hold a protest outside the Labour Party Conference in Brighton next week over the invitation.

GALHA secretary David Christmas said: “As a European citizen and leader of a religious group with a significant following in the UK, the Pope is of course welcome to visit Britain, provided that he obeys our laws. However, the idea that he should be feted and lauded as some kind of hero is a direct insult to all of those people whose lives have been blighted by his extreme doctrinal positions.”

In a statement, Pink Triangle Trust secretary George Broadhead said: “This Pope has shown himself to be paranoid about homosexuality. His opposition to LGBT rights knows no bounds. In his Christmas message last year he declared that saving humanity from homosexual behaviour was as important as saving the rainforest from destruction.

“This must be the most outrageous and bizarre claim yet made by someone who has already got a well-deserved reputation as one of the most viciously homophobic world leaders on a par with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

“The Vatican reinforced its anti-gay reputation by strongly opposing a UN declaration calling for an end to discrimination against gays and the Pope’s Christmas message provided clear evidence of an obsession about homosexuality which is tantamount to paranoia.”

The Pope has also claimed that condoms will not prevent HIV and are even making the situation in sub-Sarahan Africa worse.

Broadhead continued: “It is imperative that the strongest possible protest be made when he visits the UK next year.”