The Vatican seems to be getting in hot water more and more these days. Which from this atheist’s viewpoint is a good thing. Not only is the Vatican being criticized for its opposition to a resolution that France will introduce on behalf of the European Union (EU) that calls on governments throughout the world to stop criminalizing, torturing and executing queers, but it’s also generated controversy for not signing a United Nations document on the rights of the disabled.
In a complete misunderstanding or intentional distortion of the pro-gay resolution, Vatican spokesperson Archbishop Celestino Migliore said that it would “add new categories of those protected from discrimination … For example, states which do not recognize same-sex unions as ‘matrimony’ will be pilloried and made an object of pressure.”
A spokesperson for Italy’s leading gay organization set the record “straight” for the archbishop: “The French resolution… has nothing to do with gay marriage. It is about stopping jail and the death penalty for homosexuals,” Franco Grillini, president of Arcigay, told Reuters. He rightly called the Vatican’s statement “total idiocy and madness.”
The Italian press also wasn’t very appreciative of the Vatican’s opposition to such a basic human rights position. La Stampa, which is hardly a leftist paper, didn’t mince words in describing the Vatican’s reasoning (or lack of such) as “grotesque.” La Repubblica, the leftist paper in Rome, said that the church’s view “leaves one dumbstruck.”
Some 85 governments still have anti-gay sex laws on their books. In some of these nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Iran, queer sex is punishable by death. U.S. sodomy laws (which used to carry jail sentences) were struck down by a Supreme Court decision in 2003.
The resolution has the support of the EU’s 27 member nations as well as Amnesty International and European LGBT organizations. At this point, it does not appear to have enough votes among member nations to pass it. Still it’s an important issue to push until it does.
As for the disabled rights document the Vatican refused to sign, Migliore explained that the church had a problem with the fact that it affirms the right of the differently abled to “sexual health and reproduction.” The church believes that “in some countries such rights include the right to abortion.”
The Vatican’s position on the document came under attack from the Italian Federation for the Handicapped as well as Italy’s Democratic Party (which is left of center).
The more the Vatican opens its mouth, the more it proves that it is in, in the words of Margherita Boniver of Italy’s Democratic Party, “alarmingly anachronistic.”
Tommi Avicolli Mecca is co-editor of Avanti Popolo: Italians Sailing Beyond Columbus, and editor of Smash the Church, Smash the State: The Early Years of Gay Liberation, which will be published next year by City Lights Books. His website: www.avicollimecca.comFiled under: Archive