In her speech today, the Queen outlined the Pope’s planned religious activities for his state visit in September. His will be the first ever Papal Visit in the UK, that of Pope John Paul II in 1982 being a pastoral one. Britain’s welcoming of the Pope has not gone down well with the LGBT population.
Among other activities, the Pope will attend a prayer vigil in London and give a major speech to civil society at Westminster Hall. The Prime Minister’s Office has said: “The Papal Visit presents a unique opportunity to strengthen ties between the UK and the Holy See on areas of common interest.”
However, Naomi Phillips, head of public affairs for the British Humanist Association, said: “The numerous, costly and exclusively religious activities that the Pope will undertake in September are completely illegitimate for a state visit and one that the British people are being asked to pay for.” The BHA is a founding member of the Protest the Pope campaign, which states that among other things, the Pope has been responsible for: “opposing equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people.”
The Pope’s criticism that Britain’s equality laws “violate the natural order” was said by Peter Tatchell to be “a coded attack on the legal rights granted to women and gay people. It is a de-facto defence of faith-based discrimination.”
The Pope will visit Edinburgh, Glasgow, Coventry and London.