Anger as pope flays UK gay laws

LONDON: Gay-rights campaigners and secularists today called for protests during a visit to Britain by Pope Benedict XVI this year, after he condemned equality legislation seen as friendly to gays.

The 82-year-old pontiff, who made his comments in a letter to the bishops of England and Wales yesterday, is reportedly set to visit Britain in September, the first such trip in 28 years.

Human rights campaigner

and gay activist Peter Tatchell said: “His ill-informed claim that our equality laws undermine religious freedom suggests that he supports the right of churches to discriminate in accordance with their religious ethos.

“He seems to be defending discrimination by religious institutions and demanding they should be above the law.” In his comments yesterday pope said Britain “is well known for its commitment to equality of opportunity.” But he added “the effect of some legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs.”