Spanish gays hold 'kiss-in' in protest of Pope's visit

During visit to Spain, Benedict defends attacks gay marriage; protester says church has "antiquated, homophobic and sexist hierarchy."

pope with gay couple_311 (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
pope with gay couple_311
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
BARCELONA, Spain — About 200 gays staged a "kiss-in" on Sunday to protest Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Spain and his policies on homosexuals.
Benedict has strongly defended traditional families and the rights of the unborn on his visit to Spain, directly attacking laws allowing gay marriage, fast-track divorce and easier abortions.
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The pope issued the criticism Sunday as he dedicated Barcelona's church of the Sagrada Familia, or sacred family, the city's iconic yet unfinished monument to Christianity.
Thousands of Spaniards lined Benedict's motorcade route, cheering and waving the yellow and white flags of the Holy See. Mixed among the throngs outside Barcelona's cathedral were 200 members of the gay "kiss-in" who smooched as his pope-mobile went by.
Sergi Benavent, a 22-year-old nursing student, said he protested to show his opposition to those "who want to love in just one way."
"This is a peaceful demonstration that there are more ways of expressing one's love," he said.
His partner, Andreu Martinez, a 27-year-old administrative assistant, concurred, saying he wanted to protest the church's "antiquated, homophobic and sexist hierarchy."

The pope's comments were the second time in as many days that he had criticized the policies of Spain's Socialist government and called for Europe to rediscover God.
On Saturday, Benedict made clear his distaste for Spain's liberal bent as he arrived in the pilgrimage city of Santiago di Compostela, where the remains of St. James the Apostle are said to be buried.
He was warmly received by a crowd of thousands chanting "Viva el papa!" but there were hints of opposition as well. About 100 people demonstrated against the pope's visit and a handful of gays kissed along his motorcade route — a preview of Sunday's gay "kiss-in."