Sunday, 21 December 2008

MaltaToday: Malta’s gay Catholics rally against church’s stand on UN proposal
14.12.8 by Matthew Vella

Times do change, even for a Catholic island like Malta.
Drachma, a Catholic group for the Maltese lesbian, gay, bi- and transgender community, has ‘refused’ the Vatican’s opposition to a French resolution to the UN to decriminalise homosexuality worldwide, in one the boldest stands so far against the Roman Catholic Church.
Malta, along with all other EU member states, is a signatory to the draft political declaration to be brought before the General Assembly of the UN.
If adopted, such a declaration, on which no vote will be taken, will bind only its signatories.
But the Vatican’s ambassador to the UN, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, has earned notoriety by opposing the declaration saying it would put pressure on states which do not recognise same-sex unions, to legislate in their favour – although there is no mention of same-sex marriage in the UN declaration.
“This message is truly and deeply a scandal for our faith… we cannot stand silent when the Catholic Church herself is not defending the ‘poor’, when she is not defending the gift of life, no matter who or what we are,” Mario Gerada, a spokesperson for Drachma, said in a statement.
“Taking such a stand within the UN violates the basic principle of protection of life, which as Christians is taught to be fundamental within our faith.”
The Vatican’s press director, Fr Federico Lombardi, has clarified that refusal to support the proposal does not imply support for discrimination against homosexuals.
“Obviously no one wants to defend the death penalty for homosexuals, as some would insinuate,” he said. But he went on saying that the declaration, by putting all aspects of sexual orientation on the same level, would put pressure on countries to those who “consider marriage between a man and a woman to be the fundamental and original form of social life, and as such, [believe] that it should have a privileged place.”
The priest said the Vatican is hardly alone in rejecting the possible resolution.
Indeed, more than 90 countries outlaw same-sex relations in all circumstances, with punishments ranging from a few years jail to life imprisonment. In nine countries – Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Yemen, Sudan, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, the Gambia and parts of Nigeria – the mandatory punishment for homosexuality is death by execution.
Drachma challenged the Church by asking whether the life of gay and transgender people is less worthy than the Church’s own dogma.
The group also challenges the outdated teaching of the Church. “Are we moving back to placing human traditional law, which claims to be divine law, above the life of innocent people? The Gospel predicts that those who hold onto a law of human tradition, which has lost any basis in truth about the life of those involved, prefer their law even when it leads to the death of the guiltless,” Gerada said.
The group questioned whether the Vatican is teaching that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people should continue being tortured and killed in countries where homosexuality is still a criminal act.
According to the Catholic Church’s catechism, gay men and women must be “accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity” and “every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."

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