Members of Barcelona’s gay and lesbian community treated Pope Benedict XIV to a warm welcome during his official visit to Spain over the weekend: on Sunday, they held a surprise ‘kiss-in’ on his path as he headed towards la Sagrada Familia.
 
In his Sunday lecture, Pope Benedict XVI strongly defended traditional families and the rights of the unborn, directly attacking Spanish laws that allow gay marriage, fast-track divorce and easier access to abortions as he dedicated Barcelona's iconic basilica, the Sagrada Familia.

To signal their disagreement with the Church’s position, some 200 gays and lesbians staged locked lips for several minutes as the pope rode by in his ‘popemobile’. Calls to participate in the ‘kiss-in’ had been posted on Facebook, a blog and Twitter weeks earlier, but, as with all flash mobs, its exact location was revealed only several hours in advance to avoid censorship.

The day before, a similar initiative took place in Santiago de Compostela, home to a holy shrine that attacts thousands of Catholic pilgrims each year. 
 
Video posted on Youtube by TheAlbertoarce.

“We mingled with the faithful and were careful not to stand out”

Samir Rakiji lives in Barcelona. He participated in the event.

The flash-mob took place on November 7 between 9 and 10 in the morning, on the main avenue leading up to the Cathedral of Barcelona. The exact meeting place was unveiled two hours before, and participants had strict instructions: arrive early to be at the front of the crowd, stay discreet and don’t stand out. No signs, no flags, no slogans.
We had no trouble at all mingling with the faithful. Meanwhile, police attention was focused on a protest several hundred metres away, with signs and posters protesting against the Church’s anti-abortion, anti-contraception and anti-gay stance. So we mingled and waited for the Pope to come by on his way from the Cathedral of Barcelona to the Sagrada Familia.

We began kissing when we saw the ‘popemobile’ approach. We kept kissing for a few minutes. Obviously, we began getting some hostile looks and remarks, people began shouting insults. We replied by shouting anti-Pope slogans like “Yo no te espero” [I’m not waiting for you], the name of an association that defends a secular Spain. Then one person pulled out an anti-Pope sign, and police quickly intervened to lead him away. Things didn’t go any further, and we soon left.

Afterwards we joined the protest that was a little off the Pope’s route. The atmosphere there was fun and light-hearted: for example, there was a drag-queen in an imitation popemobile with a big sign reading ‘mama-mobile’”.

Photos by our Observer Samir Rakiji.