The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, says “homophobia is an insult to God” and that “God never created anybody that he doesn’t love.”

Referring to revelations made last week by Irish MP Jerry Buttimer, that he was beaten, spat at, mocked and harassed because of his sexuality, Dr Martin expressed concern saying: “Certainly the sort of actions that we heard of this week of people being spat at because they were gay or ridiculed … that is not a Christian attitude.

“We have to have the courage to stand up and say that”, said Dr Martin in an interview to the Irish Independent.

“Anybody who doesn’t show love towards gay and lesbian people is insulting God. They are not just homophobic if they do that – they are actually Godophobic because God loves every one of those people”.

He added: “We all belong to one another and there is no way we can build up a society in which people are excluded or insulted.

“We have to learn a new way in Ireland to live with our differences and for all of us to live with respect for one another.”

The Archbishop commented on the recent controversy involving broadcaster RTE’s legal settlement to a Catholic group.

Drag artist Panti Bliss made critical comments about the Iona Institute, accusing them of homophobia, on RTE’s Saturday Night Show last month.

Dr Martin called for the debate around marriage equality to be carried out “in a serene and sober way in which people can express themselves and differences can emerge”.

He said: “Just because a person isn’t in favour of gay marriage doesn’t mean that one is homophobic – let’s be very clear on that.”

In the Seanad, the upper house of the Irish Parliament, Senator David Norris last week attacked RTE over the speed of its settlement.

He also said homophobia remained “rampant” in Irish society and called into question the conduct of the Iona Institute.

Proving Senator Norris’ point on homophobia, Senator Jim Walsh warned in the Seanad against what he described as “dangerous, vicious elements within the gay ideological movement” in Ireland.