Faith program directors from national equal rights groups have joined in protest over the Vatican’s recent decision to oppose an initiative to decriminalize homosexuality.
The faith leaders reacted to Reuters News Service report that Archbishop Celestino Migliore said the Vatican opposed the United Nations resolution because it would “add new categories of those protected from discrimination” and could lead to reverse discrimination against traditional heterosexual marriage.
“If adopted, they would create new and implacable discriminations,” Migliore said. “For example, states which do not recognize same-sex unions as ‘matrimony’ will be pilloried and made an object of pressure,” Migliore said.
The faith leaders issued the following statement on December 10, United Nations Human Rights Day and the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
“For far too long people around the world have been ostracized, imprisoned, tortured, and denied basic rights to housing, health care, and employment simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. In more than 70 countries people can be imprisoned for homosexuality and in several countries same gender love is a crime punishable by death.
“This is why the French government, backed by 27 European Union nations, put forward a proposal, on Human Rights Day, to recognize that LGBT rights are human rights and to decriminalize homosexuality. Such a statement simply affirms the most basic of rights for LGBT people: that they be allowed to live in dignity and safety. . . .
“As faith leaders we were shocked by Vatican opposition to this proposed initiative. By refusing to sign a basic statement opposing inhumane treatment of LGBT people, the Vatican is sending a message that violence and human rights abuses against LGBT people are acceptable. . . . We urge Vatican leaders to speak out against imprisonment or execution of gay people and support this initiative.
“Compounding the Vatican’s opposition is the inaction to date of the government of the United States. As faith leaders and citizens of the United States, we call on the U.S. government to join the 50 countries throughout the world that have officially supported this U.N. proposal. . . .”
Signers of the statement were Harry Knox, director of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s religion and faith program; The Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s institute for welcoming resources and faith work; Dr. Sylvia Rhue, director of religious affairs for the National Black Justice Coalition; and Ann Craig, director of The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s religion, faith, and values program.
Music makers: prior to January’s presidential inauguration, artistic director Jason Stephens conducts members of the Houston Pride Band at their 2008 Children’s Concert in Spotts Park. – Nancy Ford