(WM) Prosecutors in the northern German city of Bremen have charged a Protestant pastor with incitement for comments he made about homosexuality, authorities said July 2.

The comments from the pastor, whose name was not released, were made at a seminar in October on the subject of marriage when he allegedly described homosexuals as criminals and homosexuality as “a form of degeneration of society,” the dpa news agency reported.

Bremen prosecutors allege that the comments are akin to inciting hatred toward a part of the population due to their sexual orientation.

The pastor has said he was not referring to homosexuals when he spoke of criminals.

A Bremen Protestant church committee had already in May initiated disciplinary proceedings against the pastor over the comments.