A leading Greek Orthodox bishop has said homosexuality is a “perversion of the human existence”, and that a gay pride festival is a “disgrace and a challenge.”

Bishop Anthimos of Thessaloniki made the comments about the second largest Greek city’s pride parade.

Quoting Matthew, he said: “Do not give dogs what is holy.”

He continued:  “Show respect that my position and life is wholly dedicated to the church and the people and respect the fact that I’m well behaved, so don’t associate me with this disgrace. Enough. This is a perversion of the human existence.”

The Bishop also said he might attend a vigil by Christian organisations on Friday against the event.

At the festival in 2012, dozens of people threw eggs and plastic bottles of water at the some 400 people participating in the event.

A bishop in Greece last year threatened to excommunicate any officials in his diocese who support measures to legalise same-sex civil partnerships.

The Orthodox Christian Bishop Seraphim of Piraeus, said homosexuality is a “terrible sin”, and that it was his duty to expel any official supporting the proposed changes.

Greece’s ban on same-sex couples from entering civil unions violates the European Convention of Human Rights, the European court ruled. On Thursday 7 November, the European Court of Human Rights declared that excluding same-sex couples from any type of legal recognition was wrong.

Greece also announced legislation to legally recognise cohabiting same-sex couples.