Gay Groups slam Pope's end of year address.

Publish Date: 23/12/2008

Pope Benedict XVIPope Benedict XVI - head of the Roman Catholic Church - has claimed that the existence of gay people is as great a threat to humanity as the destruction of the rainforest.

The Pope also attacked transgender people in his end of year address to the Vatican's central administration, and claimed that a "blurring" of genders would lead to the extinction of the human race.

Pope Benedict claimed that behaviour beyond traditional heterosexual relations - such as same sex relationships - is "a destruction of God's work". Still on the theme of destruction, the Pope said man must be protected "from the destruction of himself" and stressed respect for the "nature of the human being as man and woman."

He also highlighted that mankind needed protection: "The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less."

The Pope's latest comments have outraged LGB&T groups worldwide. The Chief Executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, Reverend Sharon Ferguson, branded the Pope's comments as irresponsible. She told "It is comments like this that justify homophobic bullying that goes on in schools and it is comments like this that justify gay bashing."

"When you have religious leaders like that making that sort of statement then followers feel they are justified in behaving in an aggressive and violent way because they feel that they are doing God's work in ridding the world of these people."

"There are still so many instances of people being killed around the world, including in western society, purely and simply because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity."

In August of this year, Michael Causer, a teenager from Liverpool died after an allegedly homophobic attack. Two teenagers, Gavin Alker and James O'Connor, have been charged with Causer's murder and will stand trial at Liverpool Crown Court in January 2009.