Gays aren’t criminals, but shouldn’t have marriage rights: Vatican

December 12th, 2008 - 2:38 am ICT by IANS  

Vatican City, Dec 12 (DPA) The Vatican’s chief spokesman said Thursday that the Roman Catholic Church believes homosexuality must not be considered a crime, but added that initiatives aimed at “putting all forms of sexual orientation on the same level” are wrong.Father Federico Lombardi was commenting on controversy triggered by the Holy See’s decision to oppose a proposal by France, backed by the 27-nation European Union (EU), for a United Nations resolution calling governments to decriminalize homosexuality.

Lombardi said the Vatican opposed all forms of discrimination. But he added that the proposal, if accepted, could end up making those, like the Catholic Church, who oppose granting marriage rights to gays “guilty of infringing human rights”.

“The Church is in favour of decriminalising homosexuality,” Lombardi said. But it opposes granting “parity of rights”, such as marriage. According to Catholic teaching, only unions between a man and a woman can be accorded such parity.

Last week, the Holy See’s envoy to the UN, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, described the French proposal as unacceptable. He argued it implied the possibility that nations which did not recognise same-sex unions as “matrimony” would face pressure to do so.

Gay rights groups in Italy and elsewhere have since staged demonstrations to protest what they say is the Vatican’s apparent willingness to ally itself with those who treat gay people as criminals.

Homosexuality is currently punishable by law in more than 85 countries. It is punishable by death in a number of them, including Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen.

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