Vatican condemned for ‘unprecedented interference’ in Italian bid to outlaw anti-LGBT+ hate

Young Catholics deserting church to protest same-sex unions ban

The Vatican has stated its opposition to an Italian bill that would help protect LGBT+ people from discrimination in an “unprecedented” move.

Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister, claimed that the proposed anti-discrimination law would breach a treaty between Italy and the Vatican that was signed almost a century ago, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported on Tuesday (22 June).

The proposed law – dubbed the Zan Law after the politician and LGBT+ rights activist who drafted it – would extend anti-discrimination protections to women, LGBT+ people and those with disabilities.

It passed through the lower house in November 2020 but has stalled in the Senate. The bill would also punish those who deliberately target LGBT+ people because of their identities.

The Vatican has objected to the law because it would also require Catholic schools in Italy to mark a day dedicated to fighting homophobia and transphobia, according to Associated Press.

Gallagher is said to have made the argument in a letter to the Italian ambassador to the Holy See last week.

Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni confirmed that a letter was sent on 17 June but did not give any further detail on its contents.

LGBT+ organisations and human rights groups in Italy have condemned the Vatican for interfering in efforts to pass the law.

Italy must ‘defend the principles of secularism’ following Vatican intervention

Italian LGBT+ rights organisation Arcigay said in a statement issued to PinkNews that the Italian government must “defend the principles of secularism that inspire our democracy”.

“The task of our country is to protect Italian citizens from violence and discrimination, and this duty, in the face of daily attacks and violence that LGBT+ people suffer, cannot be questioned by foreign states, much less from a theocratic state like the Vatican,” said Gabriele Piazzoni, general secretary of Arcigay.

The Gay Party for LGBT+ Rights called on the country’s government to reject Vatican interference and to push ahead with improving the law for queer people in Italy.

“We find worrying the Vatican meddling in the law against homophobia,” said Fabrizio Marrazzo, spokesperson for the organisation.

Meanwhile, the Union of Atheists and Agnostic Rationalists criticised the Vatican’s “unprecedented interference in state affairs”, and said the Italian government has a “political and moral obligation” to resist pressure.

The Vatican’s move represents a surprising shift in its approach to legal matters outside its own jurisdiction, but it won’t come as a surprise to LGBT+ people who are familiar with its approach to queer identities.

The Catholic Church remains firmly opposed to any advancements in LGBT+ rights and still insists that homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered”.

Earlier this year, the Vatican was fiercely condemned by LGBT+ activists when it issued guidance to priests that banned blessings for same-sex couples.

Pope Francis has proven a divisive figure for many LGBT+ Catholics. While he has been less hardline than his predecessors, he has stood over harsh, often inflammatory statements that push deeply offensive ideas about queer identities.