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Vatican's Opposition to Punishment of Gays is Surprising

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Leaders of the US’s largest group of gay Catholics expressed surprise and satisfaction at the release of a Vatican statement that opposed the use of the death penalty and other severe violations of the human rights of gay people. They noted that the statement was particularly welcome in light of an effort by the government of Uganda to pass a law imposing the death penalty for being gay, and the reported impending execution of twelve gay men in Iran.

At the UN last week, the Vatican’s Permanent Observer issued a statement that said, in part:

The Holy See continues to oppose all grave violations of human rights against homosexual persons, such as the use of the death penalty, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The Holy See also opposes all forms of violence and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons, including discriminatory penal legislation which undermines the inherent dignity of the human person.

As raised by some of the panelists today, the murder and abuse of homosexual persons are to be confronted on all levels, especially when such violence is perpetrated by the State. While the Holy See’s position on the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity remains well known, we continue to call on all States and individuals to respect the rights of all persons and to work to promote their inherent dignity and worth.

Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA, said, “We commend the Vatican for stepping forward to condemn the harsh criminal penalties – including the death penalty – imposed on gay people by some governments. Based on the most fundamental Catholic principles of respect for human life and fundamental human rights, we have long urged the Vatican to accept its responsibility to help safeguard the lives and human dignity of gay people in countries around the world. This statement is an important step in gaining universal protection for an often oppressed population.

“We urge the Vatican to continue to recognize the fundamental human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and to do so consistently and forcefully, as it did last week at the UN.”


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