By Claire West
Speakers at the protest march and rally organised to coincide with the day of the Pope's prayer vigil in Hyde Park on Saturday 18th September have been announced.
Protesters will gather at Hyde Park Corner before marching to Richmond Terrace (opposite Downing Street) for a rally which will include speeches from:
Barbara Blaine: SNAP, the Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests
Clara Connolly: Women Against Fundamentalism
Andrew Copson: British Humanist Association
Sue Cox: sex abuse survivor
Professor Richard Dawkins: scientist
Dr Ben Goldacre: journalist
Johann Hari: journalist
Father Bernard J Lynch: an openly gay catholic priest
Maryam Namazie: One Law for All
Pragna Patel: Southall Black Sisters
Terry Sanderson: National Secular Society
Peter Tatchell: human rights campaigner
Andrew Copson, BHA Chief Executive says that:
'It is outrageous that the UK government is honouring the Pope with a state visit. The damage done by the Holy See's policies on sexual health, abortion, homosexuality and education are reason enough to refuse him such an honour.'
Dr Ben Goldacre, journalist comments that:
'I am supporting the campaign because the Catholic Church, with their foolish and aggressive campaign to stop people at risk from using condoms, exacerbate the epidemic of AIDS which kills two million people every year. For such a powerful international organisation, that claims to do good, this is barely forgivable.'
Terry Sanderson, NSS President says that:
'The Pope must be held to account for the suffering his Church has inflicted on so many innocent people - not only the children, but also the adults who are destined to carry the scars throughout their lives. We are hearing about so many lives blighted and ruined by the teachings of this church, and yet the Pope is welcomed here as a hero. Our Government should hang its head in shame that it is rolling out a red carpet for a man who has so many serious questions to answer about the abuse of human rights.'
Marco Tranchino, spokesperson for the Central London Humanist Group and PtP organiser: has said that
'Our message is mainly for our Democratic Institutions. On Saturday 18th of September, we will assemble at 1.30 pm at the top of Piccadilly, we will march through central London and conclude our protest with a Rally opposite Downing Street. We demand that our Government stop honouring the Pope as a Head of State. We must not let the Vatican consolidate its power in the European Institutions. It's a pragmatic necessity for the future of our liberal society that no religious leader should be allowed to effectively deny human rights and have undemocratic influence on the politics of our Country. It is outrageous and must be changed. No State Visit!'