Police in Spain on Thursday shielded
Pope Benedict XVI from a planned gay kiss-in protest.
A similar protest last November during
the pontiff's last visit to the Roman Catholic stronghold included
roughly 200 gay men, lesbians and allies embracing as the Holy Father
was 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 traveled in his Popemobile 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.
Last year, he
said the institution leads to confusion of society's values.