A Ukrainian feminist group have demonstrated topless at St Peter’s Square for gay rights, as Pope Benedict XVI gave his weekly prayer.

Four women from Ukrainian feminist group, Femen, stripped off to display the words “Shut up!”, on their fronts, and “in gay we trust” on their backs.

The activists also shouted “Homophobic shut up!”, during the Pope’s weekly Angelus prayer on Sunday. The protest took place by the Christmas tree in the centre of St Peter’s square.

Vatican and Italian police officers quickly stopped the demonstration, reportedly detaining the Femen group members.

The women’s group, Femen, has been performing topless feminist, pro-democracy and anti-corruption protests in Russia, Ukraine and Britain.

Their first ever “training centre” was set up in Paris in September 2012.

The anti-equal marriage movement in France, which organised a rally this weekend hoped to bring out 200,000 demonstrators, and found an unlikely leader in a comedian who has denied accusations of homophobia.

In early November, French President Francois Hollande’s government approved a bill to legalise equal marriage and allow gay couples to adopt. The bill is set to be considered by parliament at the end of January.

In late December thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Paris, in support of the government’s decision. 

A small protest was also planned against the equal marriage plans, to be held outside the French embassy in Rome.

Back in December, gay rights campaigners who held a silent protest near St Peter’s Square, said that they had their placards confiscated, and were detained by police.