The Catholic former Archbishop of Glasgow Mario Conti has described same-sex marriage as “morally defective” and has urged the Scottish Government not to equate “homosexual unions with heterosexual marriage.”

In a letter published in the Catholic journal, the Tablet, Archbishop Conti wrote:

“While it is true, certainly within Catholic social teaching, that governments are not required to make all immoral actions illegal, to many it is unhelpful, unnecessary and indeed profoundly unwise for political action to do quite the opposite, namely to attempt through the law, by equating homosexual unions with heterosexual marriage, to render moral what is in itself morally defective.”

He went on to say that the Catholic Church’s opposition must “surely be worthy of consideration” given its task to “promote the moral well being of society”.

In response, the policy coordinator of Scotland’s LGBT Equality Network, Tom French said: “In a free society, Archbishop Conti is entitled to express his views, however offensive they may be. Thankfully, most people in Scotland support same-sex marriage and disagree with the assertion that their gay friends and family members are ‘morally defective’.

“The Catholic Church has long campaigned against equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and for Archbishop Conti to imply that same-sex relationships should now be made illegal is evidence of a worrying anti-gay agenda.”

In March of last year, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, described equal marriage rights as “grotesque”.