Police in Spain on Thursday shielded Pope Benedict XVI from a planned gay kiss-in protest. There was a similar protest last November during the pontiff’s last visit to the Roman Catholic stronghold which included roughly 200 gay men, lesbians and allies embracing as the Holy Fatherwas being driven to celebrate mass at Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) basilica. The protesters, however, were drowned out by thousands of cheering, flag-waving supporters of the pontiff.
Police in Madrid went on the offensive during his latest visit, blocking protesters from reaching the Pope as he travelled in his Pope mobile to a welcoming ceremony in Plaza Cibeles square, where more than 100,000 people greeted him.
A cordon of police blocked the protesters and forced them to disperse about an hour before the Pope’s arrival. According to the AFP, two men managed to evade police and kiss in front of cameras as the Pope passed by.
“We are here to be seen, now that the city is full,” activist Laura Botella, 29, told the news agency. “It is an act to assert the rights of homosexuals which are threatened by the Pope.”
The Pope has previous criticized Spain’s 2005 law legalizing gay marriage. “As a members of the European community it’s appalling that the right to protest, peacefully has been denied these Spanish nationals” Claimed gay rights commentator Jason Shaw. It would appear that the Spanish authorities have breached European laws on the right to hold peaceful protests.