Both in Italy and in France is in full swing for some time now the discussion on the recognition of unions between homosexual persons. About the intervention of the Pope in this regard, on the International Day of Peace, Gay Project has already expressed its point of view with the article “THE POPE AND THE GAY MARRIAGE“,
We find it useful to present here some official positions of the European Community and of the Catholic Church, expressed in official documents accessible to anyone. Precisely in order to avoid distorsive readings, we add all links to all the official mentioned documents.
Article 21 – Non-discrimination
1. Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, color, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.
The Council of Europe is an international organization whose purpose is to promote democracy, human rights, the European cultural identity and the search for solutions to social problems in Europe. The Council of Europe was founded on May 5, 1949, with the Treaty of London and now has 47 member States.
The institutional seat is in Strasbourg, France. The main instrument of action of the Council of Europe is to develop and promote the conclusion of international agreements or conventions between member States, and often also with other States. The initiatives of the Council of Europe are not binding and must be ratified by the member States. The Council of Europe is an organization in itself, distinct from the European Union.
Has provoked embarrassment to the Council of Europe the recommendation addressed from the apostolic nuncio in Paris, Luigi Ventura, to the Members of the EPP (European Popular Party) to request changes to the draft resolution on sexual discrimination that was going to vote on Jan. 27, 2010. The Socialist MP Luxembourg Lydie Err has labeled as “outrageous and unacceptable” the intervention of the Vatican on the debate in the Council of Europe regarding sex discrimination and homosexual unions. Lydie Err said that the Catholic Church has sent a letter to the members of the EPP Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to “suggest” to vote for amendments that “distort” the document. The current version of the draft resolution requests, among other things, to ensure the legal recognition to same-sex couples. “I’m amazed – said the Swiss Socialist, Andreas Gross, author of the report on discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender difference and of the corresponding motion for a resolution – I’m amazed that so many amendments have been submitted to the committee since the report had been adopted without objection and with only a few abstentions.” The letter of the nuncio, which could be, perhaps, the result of personal initiative, is dated January 8 but was not announced until Jan. 27, the day on which the meeting was to vote on the draft resolution Gross.
The event has received extensive coverage in the newspapers and this afternoon have appeared on various blogs articles attacking the proposals of Andreas Gross, but avoiding making explicit reference to the document criticized. For the sake of clarity I will at least quote here the summary of the proposal.
The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights points out that sexual orientation – be it heterosexuality, bisexuality or homosexuality – is a profound part of the identity of each one of us. Under international law nobody should be treated differently because of their sexual orientation. Yet lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people across Europe still face deep-rooted prejudice and widespread discrimination. This can range from physical violence – including, in the worst cases, killings – through to hate crimes, gags on expression, bans on demonstrations, state intrusion into private life and unfair treatment at school or in the workplace.
Transgender people are refused gender reassignment treatment or told they cannot register their new gender, contributing to high rates of suicide in this group.
These human rights violations must end, as well as incitement to commit them from public figures, according to the committee. Meanwhile, Council of Europe member states should ensure legal recognition of same-sex partnerships, providing notably for “next of kin” status and the possibility to jointly parent each other’s children, if not also the right of each partner to adopt the other partner’s children.
Dialogue between all bodies, based on mutual respect, is essential in order to improve mutual understanding, combat attitudes of prejudice and facilitate public debates and reforms on issues concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”
I quote here bellow the fundamental Resolution of the European Parliament on the fight against homophobia in Europe:
The European Parliament,
– having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,
– having regard to Articles 2, 3(5), 6, 7, 21 and 27 of the Treaty on European Union, Articles 10 and 19 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights,
– having regard to the Toolkit to Promote and Protect the Enjoyment of all Human Rights by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) People adopted by the Working Party on Human Rights of the Council of the European Union,
– having regard to Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly resolution 1728 of 29 April 2010 on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and the Committee of Ministers‘ recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 of 31 March 2010 on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity,
– having regard to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights report of November 2010 on Homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity,
– having regard to its previous resolution of 18 April 2012 on human rights in the world and the European Union’s policy on the matter, including implications for the EU’s strategic human rights policy(1) ,
– having regard to its previous resolution of 14 December 2011 on the upcoming EU-Russia Summit(2) ,
– having regard to its previous resolution of 28 September 2011 on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity at the United Nations(3) ,
– having regard to its previous resolution of 19 January 2011 on the violation of freedom of expression and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in Lithuania(4) ,
– having regard to its previous resolution of 17 September 2009 on the Lithuanian Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effects of Public Information(5) ,
– having regard to its previous resolutions on homophobia, and in particular those of 26 April 2007 on homophobia in Europe(6) , of 15 June 2006 on the increase in racist and homophobic violence in Europe(7) , and of 18 January 2006 on homophobia in Europe(8) ,
– having regard to Rule 110(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,
A. whereas the European Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, and must uphold and promote these values in its relations with the wider world;
B. whereas homophobia is the irrational fear of, and aversion to, male and female homosexuality and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people based on prejudice, and is similar to racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and sexism, and whereas it manifests itself in the private and public spheres in different forms, such as hate speech and incitement to discrimination, ridicule and verbal, psychological and physical violence, persecution and murder, discrimination in violation of the principle of equality and unjustified and unreasonable limitations of rights, which are often hidden behind justifications based on public order, religious freedom and the right to conscientious objection;
C. whereas, in Russia, criminal and administrative laws against the ‘propaganda of homosexuality’ were enacted in the regions of Ryazan in 2006, Arkhangelsk in 2011, and Kostroma and Saint Petersburg in 2012, and the regions of Novosibirsk, Samara, Kirov, Krasnoyarsk and Kaliningrad are currently considering such laws; whereas these laws provide for various fines of up to EUR 1270 for individuals and up to EUR 12 700 for associations and companies, and whereas the State Duma is considering a similar law;
D. whereas, in Ukraine, the Parliament is examining two draft laws put forward in 2011 and 2012 which would make it an offence to ‘spread homosexuality’, including by ‘holding meetings, parades, actions, demonstrations and mass events aiming at intentional distribution of any positive information about homosexuality’ and provide for fines and up to five years‘ imprisonment, and whereas the Committee on Freedom of Expression and Information of the Ukraine Parliament supports these bills;
E. whereas, in Moldova, the cities of Bălți, Sorochi, Drochia, Cahul, Ceadîr Lunga and Hiliuţi, as well as the Anenii Noi and Basarabeasca districts, recently adopted laws to prohibit the ‘aggressive propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientations’ and, in one case, ‘Muslim activity’, and whereas such measures have already been declared unconstitutional by the Chancellery of State in the case of Chetriş;
F. whereas, in Lithuania, it remains legally unclear whether public information may or may not promote acceptance of homosexuality further to the Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effects of Public Information, as amended in 2010;
G. whereas, in Latvia, a member of the Riga City Council recently tabled a bill to prohibit the ‘propaganda of homosexuality’ with the aim of preventing the Baltic Pride March 2012 from taking place, and whereas this proposal has not yet been examined;
H. whereas, in Hungary, the far-Right Jobbik party recently tabled several bills to create a new crime of =propagation of disorders of sexual behavior”, and a local ordinance was tabled in the Budapest City Council by Fidesz to ‘limit obscene marches’ ahead of the Budapest Gay Pride, and whereas these proposals were subsequently dropped;
I. whereas the EU Delegation to Moldova has expressed ‘deep regret and concern’ about ‘these manifestations of intolerance and discrimination’;
J. whereas the Commission has declared its commitment to ensuring respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the EU and has stated that homophobia has no place in Europe;
K. whereas homophobia continues to manifest itself, in Member States and third countries, in such forms as murders, banned gay prides and equality marches, public use of inflammatory, threatening and hateful language, police failure to provide adequate protection, and authorized violent demonstrations by homophobic groups;
L. whereas the European Parliament remains committed to equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the EU and, in particular, to the adoption of the Council Directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, which has been blocked due to the objections of some Member States; to upcoming proposals for the mutual recognition of the effects of civil status documents; to the upcoming revision of the Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia to include homophobic crime; and to a comprehensive roadmap for equality without discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity;
Situation in the European Union
1. Strongly condemns any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and strongly regrets that, in the European Union, the fundamental rights of LGBT people are not yet always fully upheld; calls, therefore, on Member States to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are protected from homophobic hate speech and violence, and ensure that same-sex partners enjoy the same respect, dignity and protection as the rest of society; urges Member States and the Commission to firmly condemn homophobic hate speech or incitement to hatred and violence, and to ensure that freedom of demonstration – as guaranteed by all human rights treaties – is respected in practice;
2. Calls on the Commission to review the Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia with a view to strengthening and enlarging its scope to include hate crimes based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression;
3. Calls on the Commission to ensure that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited in all sectors by completing the anti-discrimination package based on Article 19 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;
4. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that Directive 2004/38/EC on free movement is implemented without any discrimination based on sexual orientation, and calls on the Commission to propose measures to mutually recognize the effects of civil status documents on the basis of the principle of mutual recognition;
5. Draws attention to the findings of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights in its report ‘Homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity’; calls on the Commission and Member States to implement the opinions contained therein to the greatest possible extent;
6. Calls on the Commission to carefully examine the future results of the Agency for Fundamental Rights‘ European LGBT Survey, and take appropriate action;
7. Calls on the Commission to ensure that the annual report on the application of the Charter of fundamental rights includes a strategy to strengthen the protection of fundamental rights in the EU, including full and comprehensive information on the incidence of homophobia in Member States and proposed solutions and actions to overcome it;
8. Reiterates its request that the Commission produce a comprehensive roadmap for equality without discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity;
9. Considers that LGBT people’s fundamental rights are more likely to be safeguarded if they have access to legal institutions such as cohabitation, registered partnership or marriage; welcomes the fact that 16 Member States currently offer these options, and calls on other Member States to consider doing so;
Homophobic laws and freedom of expression in Europe
10. Is gravely concerned by developments which restrict freedom of expression and assembly on the basis of misconceptions about homosexuality and transgenderism; considers that EU Member States should be exemplary in the application and protection of fundamental rights in Europe;
11. Regrets that laws of this kind are already used to arrest and fine citizens, including heterosexual citizens, who express support for, or tolerance or acceptance of, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; also regrets that these laws legitimize homophobia and, sometimes, violence, as in the case of the violent attack on a bus carrying LGBT activists on 17 May 2012 in Saint Petersburg;
12. Condemns the violence and threats surrounding Kiev Pride event on 20 May 2012, at which two gay pride leaders were beaten up, which resulted in the parade being cancelled; recalls that EU agreements are conditional on respect for fundamental rights, as laid down in the Treaties, and therefore calls on Ukraine to introduce legislation to prohibit discrimination, including discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation; is of the opinion that current developments in Ukraine are inconsistent with this requirement; calls on the Ukrainian authorities to immediately revoke the relevant draft laws, propose legislation to prohibit discrimination – including discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation – and commit to making a safe Kiev Pride event possible next year;
13. Underlines the fact that the term ‘propaganda’ is rarely defined; is dismayed that media outlets have demonstrably censored themselves, citizens are intimidated and fear expressing their opinions, and associations and companies using gay-friendly insignia, such as rainbows, may be prosecuted;
14. Highlights the fact that these laws and proposals are inconsistent with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which precludes discriminatory laws and practices(9) based on sexual orientation, and to which Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and all EU Member States are parties; calls on the Council of Europe to investigate these human rights violations, verify their compatibility with the commitments linked to Council of Europe membership and the European Convention on Human Rights, and take appropriate measures;
15. Furthermore, highlights that education is key and therefore expresses the need for good, accessible and respectful sexual education; urges Member States and the Commission to step up the fight against homophobia through education as well as through administrative, judicial and legislative means;
16. Finally, stresses that national and international courts have consistently affirmed that public morality concerns do not justify differential treatment, including in relation to freedom of expression; points to the vast majority of countries in Europe that do not have such laws, and have thriving, diverse and mutually respectful societies;
17. Calls on the relevant authorities in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and all EU Member States to demonstrate, and ensure respect for, the principle of non-discrimination and to reconsider these laws and proposals in light of international human rights law and their commitments thereunder;
18. Calls on the Commission, the Council and the External Action Service to take note of these bans and condemn them, particularly in the context of home affairs, bilateral dialogue, and the European Neighbourhood Policy; further calls on the Council of the European Union and the External Action Service to raise this issue in the relevant international fora, such as the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the United Nations;
19. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security/Vice-President of the Commission, the governments and parliaments of Member States, the national governments and parliaments of Russia and Ukraine, the regional parliaments of Russia cited herein, and the Moldovan local councils cited herein.
(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0126.
(2)Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0575.
(3)Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0427.
(4)OJ C 136 E, 11.5.2012, p. 50.
(5)OJ C224 E,19.8.2010, p. 18.
(6)OJ C 74 E,20.3.2008, p. 776.
(7)OJ C 300 E,9.12.2006, p. 491.
(8)OJ C 287 E, 24.11.2006, p.179.
(9)Toonen v. Australia , Communication No. 488/§992, UN Doc. CCPR/C/50/D/488/1992 (1994); Young v. Australia , Communication No. 941/2000, UN Doc. CCPR/C/78/D/941/2000 (2003); X v. Columbia , Communication No. 1361/2005, UN Doc. CCPR/C/89/D/1361/2005 (2007)
In the face of these documents that show unequivocally that discrimination against homosexuals is considered odious and intolerable by the European Union institutions, the Catholic Church continually reiterates that discrimination is instead a moral duty to defend society against homosexuals. The current pope, Benedict XVI, had already expressed very clearly his thoughts in two documents:
1) Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: “Some considerations concerning the response to legislative proposals on the non-discrimination of the homosexuals persons” (Joseph Ratzinger – July 24, 1992)
2) Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: “Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons” (Joseph Ratzinger – June 3, 2003)
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congr … ns_en.html
I quote here bellow some excerpts from the first document:
“It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action … But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase.”
According to the Pope if against homosexuals trigger violent reactions are the same homosexuals who are responsible for.
“14. The sexual orientation of a person is not comparable to race, sex, age, etc. also for another reason than that given above which warrants attention. An individual’s sexual orientation is generally not known to others unless he publicly identifies himself as having this orientation or unless some overt behavior manifests it. As a rule, the majority of homosexually oriented persons who seek to lead chaste lives do not publicize their sexual orientation. Hence the problem of discrimination in terms of employment, housing, etc., does not usually arise.
Homosexual persons who assert their homosexuality tend to be precisely those who judge homosexual behavior or lifestyle to be “either completely harmless, if not an entirely good thing” (cf. no. 3), and hence worthy of public approval. It is from this quarter that one is more likely to find those who seek to “manipulate the Church by gaining the often well-intentioned support of her pastors with a view to changing civil statutes and laws” (cf. no. 5), those who use the tactic of protesting that “any and all criticism of or reservations about homosexual people… are simply diverse forms of unjust discrimination” (cf. no. 9).
In addition, there is a danger that legislation which would make homosexuality a basis for entitlements could actually encourage a person with a homosexual orientation to declare his homosexuality or even to seek a partner in order to exploit the provisions of the law.
15. Since in the assessment of proposed legislation uppermost concern should be given to the responsibility to defend and promote family life (cf. no. 17), strict attention should be paid to the single provisions of proposed measures. How would they affect adoption or foster care? Would they protect homosexual acts, public or private? Do they confer equivalent family status on homosexual unions, for example, in respect to public housing or by entitling the homosexual partner to the privileges of employment which could include such things as “family” participation in the health benefits given to employees (cf. no. 9)?
16. Finally, where a matter of the common good is concerned, it is inappropriate for Church authorities to endorse or remain neutral toward adverse legislation even if it grants exceptions to Church organizations and institutions. The Church has the responsibility to promote family life and the public morality of the entire civil society on the basis of fundamental moral values, not simply to protect herself from the application of harmful laws (cf. no. 17).”
I quote here bellow some excerpts from the second document:
“4. There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts “close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved”.
Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts “as a serious depravity… (cf. Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”. This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition.”
“5. Faced with the fact of homosexual unions, civil authorities adopt different positions. At times they simply tolerate the phenomenon; at other times they advocate legal recognition of such unions, under the pretext of avoiding, with regard to certain rights, discrimination against persons who live with someone of the same sex. In other cases, they favor giving homosexual unions legal equivalence to marriage properly so-called, along with the legal possibility of adopting children.
Where the government’s policy is de facto tolerance and there is no explicit legal recognition of homosexual unions, it is necessary to distinguish carefully the various aspects of the problem. Moral conscience requires that, in every occasion, Christians give witness to the whole moral truth, which is contradicted both by approval of homosexual acts and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons. Therefore, discreet and prudent actions can be effective; these might involve: unmasking the way in which such tolerance might be exploited or used in the service of ideology; stating clearly the immoral nature of these unions; reminding the government of the need to contain the phenomenon within certain limits so as to safeguard public morality and, above all, to avoid exposing young people to erroneous ideas about sexuality and marriage that would deprive them of their necessary defenses and contribute to the spread of the phenomenon. Those who would move from tolerance to the legitimization of specific rights for cohabiting homosexual persons need to be reminded that the approval or legalization of evil is something far different from the toleration of evil.
In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.”
“The principles of respect and non-discrimination cannot be invoked to support legal recognition of homosexual unions. Differentiating between persons or refusing social recognition or benefits is unacceptable only when it is contrary to justice. The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it.
Nor can the principle of the proper autonomy of the individual be reasonably invoked. It is one thing to maintain that individual citizens may freely engage in those activities that interest them and that this falls within the common civil right to freedom; it is something quite different to hold that activities which do not represent a significant or positive contribution to the development of the human person in society can receive specific and categorical legal recognition by the State. Not even in a remote analogous sense do homosexual unions fulfill the purpose for which marriage and family deserve specific categorical recognition. On the contrary, there are good reasons for holding that such unions are harmful to the proper development of human society, especially if their impact on society were to increase.”
“10. If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians. Faced with legislative proposals in favor of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are to take account of the following ethical indications.
When legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.
When legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is already in force, the Catholic politician must oppose it in the ways that are possible for him and make his opposition known; it is his duty to witness to the truth. If it is not possible to repeal such a law completely, the Catholic politician, recalling the indications contained in the Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, “could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality”, on condition that his “absolute personal opposition” to such laws was clear and well known and that the danger of scandal was avoided. This does not mean that a more restrictive law in this area could be considered just or even acceptable; rather, it is a question of the legitimate and dutiful attempt to obtain at least the partial repeal of an unjust law when its total abrogation is not possible at the moment.”
“11. The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behavior, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself.
The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, in the Audience of March 28, 2003, approved the present Considerations, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered their publication.”
I conclude this article by quoting a recent major Italian Supreme Court’s decision, which dismissing the complaint of the father, has given a child to the mother exclusively, even if the mother was living with another woman with whom she had a homosexual relationship, because the father had attacked the partner of the mother before the child and for 18 months he did not attend regular meetings with the child in a secure environment, in accordance with the precautionary decision of the judge.
The Supreme Court dismissed the complaint because: “the basis of the applicant’s complaint are not scientific certainties or data of experience, but the mere prejudice that living in a family centered on a homosexual couple could be detrimental to the balanced development of the child. In this way, it is assumed exactly what on the contrary is to be proved, i. e. the harmfulness of that family environment for the child “(Supreme Court of Cassation, judgment no. 601, Sec. Civil I – January 13, 2013).