The Pope has voiced his support for Mexicans campaigning against the government's push to legalise same-sex marriage.
Speaking at his blessing on Sunday, Pope Francis said he supported their protest “in favour of family and life, which in these times require special pastoral and cultural attention around the world".
The Pontiff's comments came as tens of thousands of demonstrators in Mexico took to the streets, led by far-right nationalist party Frente Nacional por la Familia (National Front for the Family), to protest against President Enrique Peña Nieto's proposal to legalise same-sex marriage and demanding parents’ right to control sex education in schools.
It is not the first time Pope Francis has spoken out against gay marriage - despite apparently relaxing the church’s position towards the LGBT community in 2015 - but he has rarely intervened in national debates.
In June, the Supreme Court in Mexico legalised same-sex marriage in a landmark legal ruling that concluded it was unconstitutional for Mexican states to bar gay marriages.
No official legislation was brought forward in parliament to introduce marriage for gay and bisexual couples, instead requiring courts throughout the country to follow suit, but it meant same-sex marriage was effectively legalised throughout the country.
Same-sex marriage is now legal in the capital Mexico City and nine of the 31 Mexican states.
Mexican bishops have strongly opposed the measure, with one bishop announcing he was “willing to go to prison to defend the family".
The issue over gay marriage appears to have divided Mexico. Earlier in September, a photograph went viral of a 12-year-old boy standing up to a protest march in the state of Guanajuato by thousands of anti-LGBT activists opposing the plans.
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