A Catholic bishop who compared legalising same-sex unions to legalising incest and child abuse is under police protection in Italy following an attack on his cathedral by vandals.

Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, who is heading the Vatican’s fight against proposed legislation that would give legal protection to same-sex couples, made the comments when speaking at a meeting of Church workers.

“Why say ‘no’ to forms of legally recognised co-habitation which create alternatives to the family? Why say ‘no’ to incest?… Why say ‘no’ to the paedophile party in Holland?” he is reported to have said.

He has now been given a police escort after the vandals painted “Bagnasco shame” on the entrance to his church.

Bagnasco’s statement has led to outrage among gay rights groups and members of the Italian government.

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