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23 Dec 2008

Vatican urges countries to ''do away with criminal penalties'' against gays

Although it does not support a United Nations declaration recognising ''sexual orientation'' and ''gender identity,'' the Vatican says no country should criminalise homosexuality.

As it explained its opposition to the 'Declaration on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity' statement presented at the UN General Assembly on Dec 18, the Holy See in the same statement released last Friday urged governments around the world to decriminalise homosexuality.

Pope Benedict

Sixty-six nations at the UN General Assembly supported the groundbreaking statement reaffirming "the principle of non-discrimination, which requires that human rights apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity."

They stated they are "deeply concerned by violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms based on sexual orientation or gender identity," and said that "violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatisation and prejudice are directed against persons in all countries in the world because of sexual orientation or gender identity."

It is the first time that a statement condemning rights abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people has been presented in the General Assembly. The statement drew unprecedented support from five continents, including six African nations. Argentina read the statement before the General Assembly. A cross-regional group of states coordinated the drafting of the statement, also including Brazil, Croatia, France, Gabon, Japan, the Netherlands, and Norway.

The statement further condemned killings, torture, arbitrary arrest, and "deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to health." The participating countries urged all nations to "promote and protect human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity," and to end all criminal penalties against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In a press release issued by the Vatican on its website (www.vatican.va) on Dec 19, Archbishop Celestino Migliore says the Holy See opposes the Declaration as it "goes well beyond the above-mentioned and shared intent".

"In particular, the categories 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity', used in the text, find no recognition or clear and agreed definition in international law. If they had to be taken into consideration in the proclaiming and implementing of fundamental rights, these would create serious uncertainty in the law as well as undermine the ability of States to enter into and enforce new and existing human rights conventions and standards."

It is believed that the statements reference the Catholic Church's well-known concerns about same-sex marriage.

"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."

According to the Catholic News Service, an explanatory note published Dec 19 in L'Osservatore Romano - the Vatican newspaper - said that if the resolution on sexual orientation aimed simply at ensuring no country treated homosexuality as a crime "there would have been no reason for the permanent observer of the Holy See in New York to criticise that document."

"The Catholic Church maintains that free sexual acts between adult persons must not be treated as crimes to be punished by civil authorities."

The note also highlighted that the way the resolution was written could open the way to the recognition of same-sex marriages and allow gay couples to adopt children, and could limit the right of the Catholic Church and other religious bodies to teach that while homosexual behaviour is not a criminal offense it is not morally acceptable.

Speaking to leaders of the Catholic Church during a Christmas assembly on Monday, Pope Benedict continued to condemn same-sex relations by saying that "saving" humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour is just as important as saving the rainforests, the UK Telegraph reported.

The 82-year-old pontiff said the Roman Catholic Church had a duty to "protect man from the destruction of himself" and urged respect for the "nature of the human being as man and woman."

He added: "The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less."

He added that the failure to respect the union between a man and a woman amounted to the "auto destruction of mankind."

The Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore did not respond when contacted by Fridae yesterday asking if the Catholic Archdiocese will support local campaigns seeking the repeal of Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code which criminalises sexual relations between men.

Reader's Comments

1. 2008-12-23 22:02  
he should deal with those priests who are child molestors first
2. 2008-12-23 23:12  
Hey, the Pope says to decriminalise!

Warren says "divorce is a greater threat to marriage".

Smart strategies by the church to move forward while they're ahead of a losing cause.
3. 2008-12-23 23:18  
If the premise of the Vatican (that is, the Pope) is that all humans should procreate, then why is the Vatican opposed to allowing priests to marry? There seems to be a failure of logic here. In any event, many of the great figures of human civilization have not procreated (Michelangelo, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, to name just a few); their work was their legacy to mankind. So "auto destruction of mankind" is just silliness. As a matter of fact: the earth is already vastly overpopulated. Homosexuality could well be Nature's way of curbing that overpopulation. If the human race continues to procreate as it has been doing, Nature is going to take revenge, probably within the next century; and it will be savage. Viva la homosexualite'!
4. 2008-12-24 01:25  
It has long been the European view - supported by scientists here, that homosexuality, transxuality and all that is a natural way of population control... Nature will always find a way, as these ppl say!

Tschaikowski didn't procreat as he was as gay as gay could be in his days, and even that is no secret... Beethoven was the true asexual being, living just for his music...

But it's true that the Vatican shld adress the child molestin/abusing issues that goes around its priests...
5. 2008-12-24 06:10  
"Sixty-sex nations at the UN General Assembly supported the groundbreaking statement reaffirming "the principle of non-discrimination, which requires that human rights apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity." LOL

Think there'e nothing in the mind of the News Editor except SEX LOL :)
6. 2008-12-24 08:49  
So let me get this "straight": the catholic leaders seem to state that, suddenly, if marriage between same sexes were recognized around the world, that event would trigger the self-destruction of all mankind?
(feels like a bit of an overstatement to me)
Those wise old catholic leaders must be privy to some inside knowledge about the power, strength, and endurance of homosexual love that the rest of the world has yet to discover; that homosexuality and same-sex love-making is actually better and more fulfilling than heterosexual relationships, and that if if it were equalized, all heterosexual men would suddenly ditch their women, all women would ditch their men, and procreation would come to a screeching halt...wow... What un-tapped POWER we must have, and they are scared to death.....ha ha ha ha
7. 2008-12-24 09:24  
not so fab but nice FIRST gift to the community.
...they surely take it toooooooooooooo slowly but that's okay, patience isn't a virtue for nothing.
8. 2008-12-24 09:34  
well, one big step forward for the conservative Catholic Church
when they state: "Vatican says no country should criminalise homosexuality.".... give them time, they will learn to accept us gays more... if church don't support gays, you people also scold and criticise; if church support gays, you people also criticise and scold..it is a very sensitive issue for the church to handle, let's compromise for awhile and move forward..given time, the church will be more accepting than this present time..
9. 2008-12-24 09:54  
I agree and disagree with caesar2003. I agree that there are serious considerations by the churches besides pure unreasoned hatred. But I don't agree that str8 pple will turn gay - it's not a choice!

If gay people enter into traditional marriages, we're simply playing by the traditional norms as defined by str8 pple.

Instead, civil unions, as supported by Sir Elton John, allow us to define committed relationship our way. Allowing civil unions or gay marriage will not turn str8 people gay, but over time, it is entirely likely that civil unions as shaped by gay people will become more attractive to some str8 couples who do not like the confines of traditional marriages.
10. 2008-12-24 09:55  
I agree with terrificturk Post #4.

And way to go for the Vatican & Pope Benedict.
Sure they made mistakes- after all, they are human, not God lol....but we should give them credit for being brave enough to face & correct their actions. This is something we can all learn from, what with the world in such a bleak state these days. Hopefully the universal Catholic Church
can nurture & MAINTAIN this positive attitude. Let's heal the world together. Merry Christmas.
Comment #11 was deleted by its author
12. 2008-12-24 10:03  
It's a funny message from the Holy See because contries that haven't already decriminalised homosexuality probably won't listen to the Pope anyway. So I think it is more like an empty gesture trying to fool us gays.

Another funny thing is how they encourage people to decriminalise homosexuality while priests and archbishops in Africa still tell people to not use condoms. So is the real message like 'don't outlaw the gays but let them infect each other with AIDS'?
13. 2008-12-24 10:46  
I don't give a rat's ass about what Il Papa says. And I'm not gonna argue the rights or wrongs of religious doctrine cuz it's like discussing dieting with an anorexic. But, fortunately, I live in a country where religion is largely irrelevant and where homosexuality was de-crimiminalized more than 2 centuries ago. I hate to admit it (and do struggle against it) but I as a European homosexual am beginning to acquire an air of moral and cultural superiority as I look at the social conservatism, narrow value systems, religious irrationalities, hypocrisy, and state-supported intolerance in the USA, Asia and the Middle East. Unfortunately, it took the horror and inhumanity of two world wars to get us Eurotrash to understand the importance of human values. Not a solution that is recommended for the rest of the world. So I don't expect the rest of the world's religious nutsos to suddenly convert to tolerance and acceptance in the near future. Many Asian, Middle Eastern, African and maybe even some American gays will, I am afraid, have to endure the irrationality of their societies and governments for a long long long time. In the meantime, maybe gays in such unenlightened places should first learn to liberate themselves and not fall victim to the shame and isolation that their societies and religions try to impose on them. It's not you who are wrong for being gay and different. It's the fault of your governments and societies for insisting on conformity and imposing irrational values.
14. 2008-12-24 10:47  
Happy Hannukah everyone!
15. 2008-12-24 11:08  
I think this is a safe concession for the Church to make in order to appear as if they are moving with the times while still maintaining their stance against same-sex marriage and child-adoption (by gay couples). I wonder whether this could be put to good use though - anyone know the appropriate Ministry dealing with Section 377A? We could mobalise the community to forward this article to them to register our support for Repeal ahead of the pride parade. Let's see just how their servers deal with that *wink*
16. 2008-12-24 12:38  
Imagine this future headline: "more str8 couples opting for Civil Unions over Marriage."
17. 2008-12-24 12:55  
Quick, print out the Vatican's press release and use it when we go to Catholic churches (wherever gay sex is illegal) to collect signatures to Repeal 377A :)
18. 2008-12-24 13:41  
the stupid Pope is obviously gay himself
19. 2008-12-25 12:00  
I strongly agree with kellen. Most of Singapore's churches have been and are still condemning homosexuality, be it subtlely or openly. The Penal Code 377A was not removed even after "violent objections" were raised. I mean, what the heck. We have more important issues to worry about, like "arranged marriages"??
20. 2008-12-25 17:32  
some ethnocentric comments here make me cough! LOL...colonizers thought our ancestral religions were inferior so they introduced christianity. now, we are "suffering" from the influences of the supposed "enlightened" ones???...i could only say amen! :-)
21. 2008-12-25 18:38  
As sure as religions disapprove of all that is gay, I disapprove of all that is religion. It amuses me that all religions believe in only one God and yet they know there are other religions espousing a different God. Any redneck can see there fore that they are all totally wrong.

And as for them all saying that being gay is a choice against nature - how can they say that when so many of us are naturally gay. I sure as hell did not make a conscious decision to be gay. In fact in my early days I made a concerted effort not to be gay. I even married a female and had two lovely kids. But nature took it's course and now I am one of the happiest and open gays you might meet. So much for their bullshit assertions. It amazes me that for anything from natural disasters to diseases and deaths theses bible bashers say that God moves in mysterious ways - we must accept it keept he faith. Why then can't they accept that THEIR god has made us the way we are and they should sit back and accept the mysterious ways of god in the same way as they do when all manner of good and bad things happen to them. Thank god for the gays - now there's something to aim for!
Comment #22 was deleted by its author
23. 2008-12-26 12:15  
Hi pheromones:

Well said. But as someone who has lived in Asia for most of my life, I can most certainly tell u that things here are a lot more complicated than what appears on the surface- in a cultural & social sense. Let's face it- our govts are just not @ that advanced a level, so barging in l to persuade them to accept & treat gays/lesbians as an equal is a lot like trying to teach George Bush the art of diplomacy. Besides there is what I call the 'colonial hangover syndrome'- Christianity, to the mind of many Asians, is not just a religion, but seen as a symbol of standard Western human rights values (I'm not kidding). If what Papa II said, even though it's obviously just lip service, can get to modify the attitudes of the families & relatives of gays/lesbians unfortunate enough to be born in a religious household, it is still something we, as a community should support. As long as it alleviates the suffering of plus I can tolerate Papa & the Roman Catholic Chrurch- with eyes peeled & a dagger hidden in my cloak, of course ;))
24. 2008-12-26 13:16  
FuCkInG hypocrites. The last thing I would want is for the Vatican to say it's ok for me to be the way I am. Lying, deceitful, perverted, manipulating, coniving swine.
25. 2008-12-26 21:08  
re post #21 girlongirl... hey girl! joyeux noel! :).... of course, u are right... every little bit helps, even a pope fond of red shoes saying that we don't deserve to be imprisoned, flogged or beheaded... i do understand that on the individual and personal level it is very difficult for many and that a Pope's appeal to common sense might be useful in confronting Catholic family and friends... but my main point is that we cannot look to religion for acceptance... in europe, for instance, gay liberation succeeded NOT because religions became more tolerant (although many eventually did) but because religion became irrelevant as the majority of people just stopped believing in the old superstitions and irrationalities... it might be a shock to americans and some asians, but up to 80% of the people in some european countries don't even believe in god anymore.... anyway i don't see much hope for gays in Asian countries (and some parts of the USA) where religion continues to flourish and where it plays such a vital role in society and national identity... it's just a sad sad sad reality... maybe Christianity will indeed liberalize enough to allow us a meagre portion of rights and acceptance in Singapore and the Philippines over the next few decades, but then what about Islam? Can and does anyone sense any real hope of acceptance in Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Middle East?
26. 2008-12-31 10:13  
Oh, merci beaucoup pheramones!!!
Bon Annee to u too ;))
Indeed, any gay or lesbian person worth their salt will never get too close with anything -or anyone- religious. XD And yes, I've been to Europe , & saw for myself what you're talking about....in France for example, its not unusual to see half-vacant pews in chruches during Mass.
But, like you said, it took 2 world wars & the Holocaust for Europe to finally realize how serious consequences can be when religion is combined with national policy & used as a chessboard by the religious authorities & politicians. So there you have some recent history, albeit a sad & painful one- as a reminder.
Here in Asia -or even America- situations are entirely different- which will take me 2 volumes of paperback to explain :p Once you know their recent history, you'll see why religion is going on strong in these continents. Sigh.
27. 2009-01-01 20:19  
I must say that I thought her red shoes looked fabulous on her tour downunder.

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