Up to 20,000 people have taken part in a protest in London against the Pope’s state visit to Britain.
The protestors rallied against Pope Benedict XVI’s conservative views on homosexuality, the use of condoms and women’s rights as well as his weak response to the Catholics Church’s child abuse scandals.
Protestors included gay human rights activist Peter Tatchell as well as The God Delusion author Richard Dawkins. The Protest the Pope march began at Hyde Park Corner and ended in Downing Street.
“This is not an attack on Catholic people or the Catholic faith. We are critical of certain policies of the Pope. When he says no woman is fit to be a priest, that’s an insult to the whole of female humanity,” Tatchell told the BBC.
“When he says a husband must not use a condom to protect his wife from infection – even if he has HIV – that’s irresponsible. And when he says that all gay people possess a tendency towards evil, that flies in the face of the Christian gospel of love and compassion,” he added.
Banners and signs held aloft by protestors included messages such as “homophobe”, “genocide by dogma”, “the pope protects paedophile priests” and “Pope’s opposition to condoms kills people”.
The Protest the Pope campaign is particularly opposed to the fact that public funds have been used to pay for the Pontiff’s visit to the UK.
While the protest was being held, an estimated 80,000 turned out to welcome the Pope in London.