In what some say is an “unprecedented” move, the Vatican lodged a diplomatic protest against an Italian bill that would penalize discrimination and hate speech based on sexual orientation and gender identity. According to Agence France Press (AFP), draft legislation known as the Zan law being considered in the Italian Parliament has received a rebuke from the Holy See. The Vatican argued in a letter that the proposed law violates the Concordat, the bilateral treaty between the city-state and the nation of Italy, because it curtails the freedom of Catholics to hold and express their beliefs. The Vatican letter, called a “note verbale,” was “informally delivered” to the Italian ambassador Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told AFP.
“It is an unprecedented act in the history of relations between the two states,” the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported. The Italian daily noted that the letter was presented by Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s de facto foreign minister. Some are concerned that Catholics may face legal consequences for expressing religious views on LGBT issues if the law passes. The letter argued that the bill threatens the Vatican’s “freedom of organisation” and “freedom of thought”. Supporters of the bill say the Vatican’s stance is an attempt to interfere in Italy’s politics. “The law does not restrict freedom of expression or religious freedom,” tweeted Alessandro Zan, the gay, centre-left lawmaker sponsoring the bill. In another tweet, Zan said that “there can be no foreign interference in the laws of a sovereign parliament.”
Roberto Grendene, secretary of the Union of Atheists and Agnostics, said that the Italian government has the “political and moral obligation to unilaterally denounce this unprecedented interference in state affairs.” Those who oppose the Zan law, such as former deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, argue the legislation amounts to LGBT propaganda in schools. Salvini contends such a law will lead to censorship and trials “for those who believe that mum, dad and family are the heart of our society.” This is the first time the Vatican has entered the political fray through the Concordat, which grants the city-state the right to protest in this way. Although the Roman Catholic Church is officially opposed to homosexuality the Vatican did not make a move of this kind when the Italian Parliament passed legislation on same-sex unions in 2016.
The Zan law is expected to face pushback in the Senate. While Pope Francis is often portrayed as more liberal on LGBT issues, the head of the Church has spoken out about the dangers of gender ideology. In an interview between Francis and a priest published last year, the pope decried “gender theory” as an area where he sees evil at work in the world. The pontiff called it a “dangerous” goal that seeks to destroy the plan of God for humanity. In March, the Vatican issued a formal response to a question about whether Catholic churches have the power to bless same-sex unions by stating that churches can’t bless same-sex marriages since God “cannot bless sin.” Additionally, the Vatican issued a document in 2019 which pushed back against “calls for public recognition of the right to choose one’s gender, and of a plurality of new types of unions.”
Source: Christian Post