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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Vatican would rather gay people were executed than married

(and it doesn’t want disabled people to be protected, either, in case it promotes abortion)

The full extent of the regressive nature of the Vatican under Ratzinger was made clear this week when it was revealed that the Vatican had opposed two United Nations resolutions aimed at protecting gay and disabled people from discrimination and death.

When France proposed a resolution seeking all nations to decriminalise homosexuality, the Vatican immediately said it would oppose the resolution. This is despite the fact that up to 70 nations still have legal punishments for gay people including, in some instances, the death penalty. In a number of Islamic countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen, homosexual acts are still a capital offence.

The UN resolution is due to be proposed by France later this month on behalf of the 27-nation European Union. But Archbishop Celestino Migliore said the Vatican opposed the resolution because it would “add new categories of those protected from discrimination” and could lead to reverse discrimination against traditional heterosexual marriage.

“If adopted, they would create new and implacable discriminations,” Migliore said. “For example, states which do not recognise same-sex unions as ‘matrimony’ will be pilloried and made an object of pressure,” Migliore said.

A strongly worded editorial in Italy's mainstream La Stampa newspaper said the Vatican’s reasoning was “grotesque”.

Franco Grillini, founder and honorary president of Arcigay, Italy’s leading gay rights group, said the Vatican’s reasoning smacked of “total idiocy and madness”. Mr Grillini said the resolution had nothing to do with gay marriage, but was aimed at stopping the execution of gay people in Islamic countries.

An editorial in Rome’s left-leaning La Repubblica newspaper said the Vatican’s position “leaves one dumbstruck”. Margherita Boniver, a leading member of Italy’s leftist Democratic Party, called it “alarmingly anachronistic”.

The gay rights activist, Grillini, said he feared what he called another “Holy Alliance” between the Vatican and Islamic states at the United Nations to oppose the proposed resolution. At a major U.N. conference on the family in Cairo in 1994, the Vatican teamed up with Islamic and Latin American countries to defeat an abortion rights proposal. In October, a leading Vatican official called homosexuality “a deviation, an irregularity and a wound”.

The secretary of the UK’s Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association, David Christmas, described the statement as “ludicrous”. He said: “The accusation that it is in some way discriminatory to attempt to counteract the prejudice and hatred which exists in over 80 countries that outlaw same sex relations would appear to be yet another example of the Vatican turning logical thinking on its head.”

Mr Christmas pointed out that in nine countries or regions of countries the mandatory punishment for homosexuality is death by execution. “Isn’t the Vatican supposed to believe in the right to life”, he asked?

Meanwhile the Times has revealed that the “Holy See” also refused to sign a UN document last May on the rights of the disabled because it did not condemn abortion or assert the rights of foetuses with birth defects.

The Vatican made its position clear as it marked the United Nations International Day of Disabled People. Archbishop Migliore said the Vatican could not accept a clause in the UN declaration affirming a right to “sexual health and reproduction” because “in some countries such rights include the right to abortion”.

The Italian left of centre Democratic Party said that coupled with the Vatican’s stand on gays, this showed a "return to obscurantism" under Josef Ratzinger.

Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society said: “These two incidents expose the Vatican’s ‘morality’ to be a sham. How otherwise could an organisation that purports to be a moral authority and whose current Pope’s first encyclical was laughingly entitled God is Love actually oppose measures to put pressure on states who execute citizens because of their sexuality? It seems that in some respects the Vatican has not moved on very much from some of the medieval atrocities for which it was so famous.”

Mr Wood continued: “Most of the dwindling number of Catholics left in the pews will be horrified by this latest manifestation of the increasingly reactionary and authoritarian Vatican and this latest outrage can only serve to swell the ranks of the millions of lapsed Catholics. But the interference in UN business in such a cruel and heartless way degrades not only the Vatican itself but undermines the reputation of the UN. The so-called Holy See is not a legitimate partner of the UN and should never have been recognised. It should lose its undeserved status immediately.”

See also:
Church advert abused gays
Archbishop defends Catholic-Mormon alliance to defeat gay rights


05 December 2008

Published Fri, 05 Dec 2008