Students at the University of St Andrews will hold a silent protest this Sunday against comments made by Cardinal Keith O’Brien about marriage equality.

Cardinal O’Brien is due to give a sermon on the Meaning of Discipleship this weekend at Scotland’s oldest university.

He will be greeted by silent protest objecting to his description of government proposals to give gay couples an equal right to marry as a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”.

A student representative told PinkNews.co.uk it wanted to take a silent stand against Cardinal O’Brien’s comments without disrupting the church service and with “respect” to people’s right to practice their religion.

LGBT President and SRC Member for Sexualities Lea Duchemin told PinkNews.co.uk the silent protest had one specific aim: “The protest is not against Cardinal O’Brien’s visit, nor against the fact that he has been invited by the University, but in response to his offensive comments.

“Sallies Chapel is a place of worship above anything else and we must absolutely respect people’s right to practice their religion. A verbal statement wouldn’t be as powerful as a silent and peaceful one, which shows people’s involvement in the matter in a much more appropriate way.

“What we are aiming for is to make a statement, to show our presence, in a way that words cannot express. By all means we want to avoid hecklings, picketing and any other disruptive behaviour.”

The LGBT Society has invited students to wear colourful shirts to the Mass in order to represent difference colours of the rainbow.

The university’s Student Representative Council voted unanimously to support the silent protest this week.

It held that “the Cardinal’s words (describing gay marriage as an “aberration” and likening it to slavery and abortion), not his visit, were offensive to the LGBT Community as well as to members of the general public” and said it would support the silent protest and “encourage all students to attend the event”.