An Italian comedian faces up to five years prison time after insulting Pope Benedict XVI in a homosexual demons remark.

In July, Sabina Guzzanti warmed up a crowd at a rally in Rome, aimed at protesting Catholic interference in areas such as education and gay rights, with a number of jokes at the expense of politicians and the Pope.

Joking that within 20 years teachers would likely be selected by the Vatican, she quipped, “But then, within 20 years the Pope will be where he ought to be — in Hell, tormented by great big poofter devils, and very active ones, not passive ones.”

While the crowd reportedly seemed to take the remark well, her comments have now fallen foul of an Italian law which prohibits insulting the Pontiff.

Prosecutors have been given permission by the Minister of Justice to charge her with “offending the honour of the sacred and inviolable person” of the Pope.

The law, under which she would be charged, is included in a treaty signed between the Vatican and fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in 1929.

Crtics have slammed the move as a “return to the Middle Ages.”

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