A gay rights organization in Switzerland wants Roman Catholic Bishop Vitus Huonder charged with a crime for quoting the Bible about homosexuality.
According to Pink Cross, a gay rights coalition, Huonder was participating in a debate on July 31 in Fulda, Germany, when he quoted Leviticus 20:13:
"If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."
Pink Cross claims that Huonder, who is Swiss, quoted another anti-homosexuality verse and stated: "Both of these passages alone suffice to clarify unambiguously the church's position on homosexuality."
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Pink Cross filed a criminal complaint against Huonder claiming that he was "inciting people to crime or violence."
If found Huonder were to be tried and found guilty, he could go to jail for three years.
Bastian Baumann, director of Pink Cross, said in a statement:
"As a figure of authority within the church, Vitus Huonder accepts that his demand will meet with approval among Christians and other fundamentalists and could be followed obediently."
It's not clear if the bishop actually called for present-day Christians to literally put homosexuals to death or was simply reading the Bible verses.
Baumann told Newsweek:
"We believe in freedom of expression, and taking quotes from the Bible is fine. But then he said the words should be applied to real life, which is the equivalent of calling for the death penalty for gay people. We were worried about that. He is the leader of a big church, and he was calling for people to follow his words, and we thought this could be dangerous."
In response to the controversy, Huonder issued a statement, but mentioned a different date than Pink Cross did, notes Newsweek:
"I am sorry if my 50 minute lecture in Fulda on 2 August 2015, which dealt with the biblical basis for marriage and family, was understood as diminishing homosexual people.
"This was not my intention. During the lecture I quoted several uncomfortable passages from the Old Testament to do with marriage, sexuality and family. I want to clarify that I ... would in no way wish to diminish homosexual people."
Baumann countered: "There is no question in this case of what he was talking about — there was no misunderstanding. We don't need charity or mercy from the Church at all, we don't accept his apology."