Today the Vatican representative read a statement (webcast) to a United Nations panel on anti-gay violence. Although the Holy See did not reference Uganda by name, it does address in a general sense its response to the Ugandan Kill Gays bill. The timing suggests that this statement is driven by the publicity surrounding the bill.
Statement of the Holy See
Thank you for convening this panel discussion and for providing the opportunity to hear some very serious concerns raised this afternoon. My comments are more in the form of a statement rather than a question.
As stated during the debate of the General Assembly last year, the Holy See continues to oppose all grave violations of human rights against homosexual persons, such as the use of the death penalty, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The Holy See also opposes all forms of violence and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons, including discriminatory penal legislation which undermines the inherent dignity of the human person.
As raised by some of the panelists today, the murder and abuse of homosexual persons are to be confronted on all levels, especially when such violence is perpetrated by the State. While the Holy See’s position on the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity remains well known, we continue to call on all States and individuals to respect the rights of all persons and to work to promote their inherent dignity and worth.
Thank you, Mr. Moderator.
The Catholic Church is masterful at crafting careful language so we should be cautious not to see here what is not present. The Ugandan bill as it currently stands, calling for the death penalty and life sentences, would clearly fall outside the Church’s approval.
However, the Church speaks of “cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment” and of “discriminatory penal legislation”. The Church is not, in this message, calling for the decriminalization of homosexual acts.
Indeed, to do so would be contrary to their statements of a year ago. At that time, when the European Union called for decriminalization, the Vatican officially objected, making the peculiar argument that such a call discriminates against nations that don’t recognize same-sex unions. (Catholic News Service 12/08/08)
The Vatican has made clear its opposition to the United Nations endorsing a universal declaration to decriminalize homosexuality.
Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican’s apostolic nuncio to the United Nations, and Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said unjust forms of discrimination against homosexuals must be avoided.
However, the Vatican does not approve of a formal declaration with political weight that might be used to put pressure on or discriminate against countries that do not recognize same-sex marriage, they said.
However, even though the Catholic Church does not have the courage or integrity to directly oppose Uganda’s proposed legislation by name nor the moral character to oppose the criminalization of homosexuality in general, I do welcome this very powerful voice to the chorus who oppose draconian laws such as the one proposed.