Vatican intervention in Italian “anti-homophobia” law “unprecedented”

Vatican intervention in Italian law

The Vatican has intervened with the Italian state in a proposed “anti-homophobia” law, saying that the legislation violates freedoms of the Catholic Church in Italy.

Local media have called the Vatican’s intervention in Italian law “unprecedented” in the history of the relationship between the two states.

According to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, a letter was delivered by Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s secretary of relations with states, to the Italian government.

The “anti-homophobia” bill, known by the name “Ddl Zan,” is being examined by the justice commission of the Italian Senate, after the text received initial approval from the House last November.

The bill seeks to prevent and oppose “discrimination and violence for reasons based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability.”

The note from Gallagher said parts of the legislation violated a treaty made between Italy and the Catholic church in the 1920s that secured the freedoms and rights of the church, Corriere della Sera reported.

The agreement guarantees that the Italian Republic recognises “the full freedom of the Catholic Church to carry out its pastoral, educational and charitable mission, of evangelisation and sanctification.”

According to article 2, paragraph 3 of the agreement, “Catholics and their associations and organisations are guaranteed full freedom of assembly and expression of thought by word, writing and any other means of dissemination.”

The intervention has further stoked a fiery debate surrounding the law, designed to make violence and hate speech against LGBT people and disabled people, as well as misogyny, a crime.

An atheist group in Italy protested the Vatican’s actions, saying they “violated the independence and the sovereignty of the Republic.”

“The government has the political and moral obligation to not only just resist pressure but to unilaterally denounce this unprecedented interference in state affairs,’’ the secretary of the Union of Atheists and Agnostic Rationalists, Roberto Grendene, said in a statement.

A gay-rights group, Gay Party for LGBT+ Rights, called on Premier Mario Draghi’s government to reject the Vatican’s interference “and improve the law so that it truly has, at its heart, the fight against homophobia and transphobia.”

“We find worrying the Vatican meddling in the law against homophobia,’’ said the group’s spokesman, Fabrizio Marrazzo.

Marrazzo said Gay Pride Parades in Milan and Rome on Saturday would send a clear message from the streets on the topic “and defend the laicity of the state.”

Archbishop Gualtiero Bassetti, president of the Italian bishops’ conference, urged more “open dialogue” about the issue “to arrive at a solution without ambiguity and legislative stretch.”


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