The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) has condemned the Vatican’s opposition to a declaration against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The declaration, which is officially supported by the European Union, is due to be presented to the UN General Assembly later this month.

Monsignor Celestino Migliore, the Holy See’s permanent observer at the UN, claims the declaration could be used to force countries to recognise same-sex marriage.

“If adopted, they would create new and implacable discriminations,” he said.

“For example, states which do not recognise same-sex unions as ‘matrimony’ will be pilloried and made an object of pressure.”

More than 80 countries outlaw same-sex relations in all circumstances.

The maximum punishments range from a few years jail to life imprisonment.

In nine countries, or regions of countries, the mandatory punishment for homosexuality is death by execution.

There is no mention of same-sex marriage in the UN declaration. Only a handful of countries recognise gay and lesbian marriages, among them Canada, Belgium and South Africa.

GALHA’s secretary, David Christmas said the Vatican’s stance is ludicrous.

“The accusation that it is in some way discriminatory to attempt to counteract the prejudice and hatred which exists in over 80 countries that outlaw same sex relations, would appear to be yet another example of the Vatican turning logical thinking on its head,” he said.

The Vatican has backed their UN observer.

“It’s not for nothing that fewer than 50 member states of the United Nations have adhered to the proposal in question while more than 150 have not adhered. The Holy See is not alone,” a spokesman said.