The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) has organised a protest against Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the UK to be held at the Labour Party’s annual conference this week.
The demonstration is scheduled for Wednesday at 12.30pm in Brighton. Protesters will first meet at Brighton Palace Pier and then march to the upper south-side Brighton Centre for 1pm.
The Pope is set to visit the UK in 2010. When his predecessor Pope John Paul II visited Britain in 19982, similar protests were held.
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.
“It also beggars belief, that at a time of great financial hardship for millions of ordinary people, Gordon Brown should even be contemplating a costly state-funded jamboree in honour of a man whose statements and actions are often so pernicious.
“In particular, most of the rights that gay people have gained in Britain have been secured in the teeth of opposition from the Vatican. The church that claims that sex should be part of a loving and committed relationship has bitterly opposed any recognition of such relationships between gay people. Gay couples offering to devote themselves to bringing up children have been snubbed. The message, perversely is that love and commitment count for nothing if you happen to be gay.”
Last year, the pontiff claimed that saving humanity from homosexual behaviour was as important as saving the rainforest from destruction.
He has also said that condoms will not prevent HIV and are even making the situation in sub-Saharan Africa worse.
Christmas added that he had seen anger from Catholics over some of the pronouncements made by the Pope and added: “They are of course very welcome to join us at the demonstration. [Gordon] Brown has gravely underestimated the strength of feeling about this visit.”