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Gay rights activists protest at Pope's Sunday morning prayer

Demonstrators held placards condemning homophobia after Pope Benedict said same-sex unions “destabilise marriage”.

A 24-metre Christmas tree stands in St Peter's Square at the Vatican.
A 24-metre Christmas tree stands in St Peter's Square at the Vatican.
Image: Gregorio Borgia/AP

GAY RIGHTS CAMPAIGNERS held a small protest near St Peter’s Square during Pope Benedict XVI’s weekly prayers, after the pope said legalising gay marriage threatened the institution of marriage.

Around 15 activists held up colourful paper hearts with slogans written on them including “Gay Marriage”, “Love Has No Barriers”, “Talk About Love”, “Homophobia = Death” and “Marry Peace!”

One of the hearts read: “Love Thy Neighbour”.

The protesters were prevented from accessing St Peter’s Square, which was packed with tens of thousands of faithful for the traditional Angelus prayer on the third Sunday of Advent.

The protest came as thousands prepared to take to the streets in France in support of a government proposal to legalise gay marriage that is fiercely opposed by sections of the opposition right, Roman Catholic bishops and other religious leaders.

In a message intended for World Peace Day on January 1, last Friday the pontiff reiterated the Catholic Church’s position against gay marriage.

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The Pope called for promotion of “the natural structure of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the face of attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different types of union.

“Such attempts actually harm and help to destabilise marriage, obscuring its specific nature and its indispensable role in society,” he said.

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AFP

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