Gays protest against pope's visit to Spain

21st August 2011, Comments 0 comments

About 100 gays and lesbians protested in Madrid Saturday against Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Spain and the Vatican's fierce opposition to same-sex marriages.

The protesters, some with young children in tow, held up signs that read "I am in favour of ALL families" and "Secular state" as they stood in front of dozens of balloons of different sizes and colours.

"We do not want to return to a time when the Church would decide what a family is, when marriages were only through the Church," said Miguel Angel Sanchez, 43, the president of gay rights group Fundacion Triangulo which organised the protest.

"The Catholic Church did not come to carry out a religious act in Spain, it has come to stage a political act to demonstrate its political and economic power because it is aware that Spain no longer follows its doctrine."

Spanish police Thursday foiled plans by 100 gays and lesbians to stage a kiss-in in front of the 84-year-old pontiff, blocking protesters before they could meet up.

In the end only two men managed to skirt the security clampdown and kiss for the cameras just as the pope passed by along the major Madrid artery of Calle Serrano during the first day of his four-day visit to Spain to preside over World Youth Day celebrations, which have drawn over one million faithful.

In 2005 Spain passed a law to allow same-sex marriages, making it only the third member of the European Union after Belgium and the Netherlands -- and the world's first predominantly Roman Catholic nation -- to do so.

The law, part of the ruling Socialists aggressive agenda for social reform, also lets gay couples adopt children and inherit each others property.

Polls show two-thirds of Spaniards back same-sex marriage.

© 2011 AFP

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