A big demo is planned for London tomorrow to oppose Pope Ratzinger’s visit to the UK in September.
Secularists and gay activists are not exactly chuffed by the fact that the arch homophobe and bigoted old bastard will be here largely at taxpayers’ expense, as well as the fact that he’s, well, an arch homophobe and bigoted old bastard.
“The demonstrators are protesting at what they see as the pope’s bigotry on questions of gays and women,” says a story in Digital Journal. “They are also concerned about how much the British taxpayer will have to shell out for the visit, although, in response to a parliamentary question about the visit, the government has said: ‘The forthcoming visit of the Pope to the UK will be a Papal visit. As a Papal visit it will have status equivalent to a State Visit. The costs of the visit have not yet been determined; as with State Visits, certain elements will be borne by public funds.’ ”
The National Secular Society has organised a petition against the visit, which, as at lunchtime Saturday, had amassed more than 21,000 signatures.
George Broadhead, secretary of our parent organisation, the Pink Triangle Trust, says, “The Pope’s stance on many moral issues is completely contrary to that of humanists. It is also contrary to modern liberal values.
“He opposes women’s rights, gay equality, embryonic stem cell research, death with dignity and the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV. He has recently denounced our equality laws, causing the government to back down [in a House of Lords vote on amendments to employment provisions in the Equality Bill]. He is quite likely to abuse his presence in Britain to further attack our democratically agreed legislation that gives equal rights to women and gay people. This is why the Pink Triangle Trust is supporting the demonstration against his visit to the UK.”
We were recently a bit hot under the collar about the government’s climbdown, too.
“Campaigners have also been angered by the Pope’s speaking out against provisions in the Equality Bill – which a series of amendments have now removed – that would extend employment rights to all, irrespective of whether the employer is a religious organisation,” says the Digital Journal story.
Tomorrow’s event is being led by the Central London Humanist Group, in partnership with the National Secular Society, OutRage!, the One Law for All campaign, the Protest the Pope campaign and other organisations.