The Pope and other senior members of the Catholic Church have made their homophobic views clear on many occasions. His rather bizarre view that homosexuality was as bad as destruction of the rain forests had me choking on my Earl Grey a year or so ago.
Now, I would have no objection in principle to him coming to the UK if the Catholic Church were funding it, but because he's coming as the Head of State of the Vatican, I do have a problem with shelling out £20 million of taxpayers' money to pay for the privilege of hearing him incite prejudice against the LGBT community. I'm not over chuffed about having to listen to his views on contraception either - my mind boggles that anyone could compare human trafficking, divorce and contraception as like for like. As well as his homophobic comments, we can't forget that this is a man who rejects the notion that women have the right to control their own fertility. Nor can we forget that his objection to condom use costs lives in Africa.
So, we've established that I really don't want to put my hand in my pocket and support this man's visit and I'm fairly certain I'm not alone in that? What can we do about it though? I mean, we've had some fairly unpleasant people visit this country on public money - the Chinese leader, and the King of Saudi Arabia, representing regimes where the regard for human life and liberty is scant to say the least. I particularly admired the stand the Almighty Vince took on the Saudi King's visit, saying at the time:
"I think it's quite wrong that as a country we should give the leader of Saudi Arabia this honour."
While I would have no problem if Nick Clegg decided against meeting the Pope because of his views on equality, I don't think it's a realistic proposition. There are many deeply committed Catholics who may not share the Pope's views - in fact the majority don't - who would view such a stance as quite insulting to them. The Church itself does a lot of good across our communities and supports many humanitarian efforts across the globe and can't be compared really to the Saudi regime, for example.
I think my way of dealing with the fact that my taxes are funding the Pope's visit will be to give some money to a charity which supports young, gay people or works against homophobic bullying. I know there are many - why not add your suggestions in the comments to give people a wide choice if they want to do the same?
UPDATE LJH in the comments has highlighted the National Secular Society's petition to ask that the Catholic Church funds the visit, not the taxpayer. If you agree, do sign - at the time of writing nearly 2500 people have.