Sunday, 21 December 2008

Times: Vatican backs gay decriminalisation
Friday, 19th December 2008 - 15:46CET

The Vatican today urged governments around the world to decriminalise homosexuality but said a proposed UN resolution on the issue went too far.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said the Holy See's delegation explained the position at the United Nations late yesterday, criticising the wording of a European-backed text that champions decriminalisation of homosexuality.

"The Holy See continues to advocate that every sign of unjust discrimination towards homosexual persons should be avoided and urges States to do away with criminal penalties against them," read the delegation's remarks, released by the Vatican on its website ( today.

"At the same time, the Holy See notes that the wording of this declaration goes well beyond the above mentioned and shared intent."

The Vatican singled out the categories of "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" in the text, saying "these would create serious uncertainty in the law" -- in what appeared to be reference to its well-known concerns about gay marriage. The Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, has previously warned the proposed European-backed text could lead to reverse discrimination against traditional heterosexual marriage.

"If adopted, they would create new and implacable discriminations," Archbishop Migliore told a French Catholic news agency. "For example, states which do not recognise same-sex unions as 'matrimony' will be pilloried and made an object of pressure."

The Catholic Church teaches that while homosexuality is not sinful, homosexual acts are. It also opposes gay marriage and, in October, a leading Vatican official called homosexuality "a deviation, an irregularity and a wound".

Sponsors of the European text point out that homosexuality is still punishable by law in 77 countries and by death in seven of them. This includes Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen.

An opposing Arab-backed statement, read out at the United Nations on Thursday by Syria, said the European text could lead to "the social normalisation, and possibly the legitimisation, of many deplorable acts including paedophilia".

"We note with concern the attempts to create 'new rights' or 'new standards,' by misinterpreting the Universal Declaration and international treaties," it added.

Fr Lombardi told Reuters that the Vatican did not support the Arab-backed statement either.

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