Cardinal faces ‘hate speech’ investigation

Comments on homosexuality spark complaint

A newly-named Spanish cardinal is to face a police investigation after a gay rights movement accused him of hate speech for his comments on homosexuality.

Having been named as one of Pope Francis’ choices for the February 22 consistory, Cardinal-elect Fernando Sebastian Aguilar gave an interview to Spanish media in which he addressed the issue of homosexuality and described it as “a defect”.

"A lot of people complain and don't tolerate it but with all respect I say that homosexuality is a defective way of manifesting sexuality, because that has a structure and a purpose, which is procreation," he said, adding: "Pointing out a defect to a homosexual is not an offence, it is a help because many cases of homosexuality can be recovered and normalised with adequate treatment."

Following publication of the comments, the gay rights group Colegas made an official complaint accusing the prelate of “inciting hate and discrimination”.

Police have now opened an investigation into whether the prelate’ words constitute an offence under Spanish law, while gay activists have launched a petition to have Pope Francis reject the red hat for Aguilar, which has to date gathered 20,000 signatures.