As it explained its opposition to the 'Declaration on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity' statement presented at the UN General Assembly on Dec 18, the Holy See in the same statement released last Friday urged governments around the world to decriminalise homosexuality.
Sixty-six nations at the UN General Assembly supported the groundbreaking statement reaffirming "the principle of non-discrimination, which requires that human rights apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity."
They stated they are "deeply concerned by violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms based on sexual orientation or gender identity," and said that "violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatisation and prejudice are directed against persons in all countries in the world because of sexual orientation or gender identity."
It is the first time that a statement condemning rights abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people has been presented in the General Assembly. The statement drew unprecedented support from five continents, including six African nations. Argentina read the statement before the General Assembly. A cross-regional group of states coordinated the drafting of the statement, also including Brazil, Croatia, France, Gabon, Japan, the Netherlands, and Norway.
The statement further condemned killings, torture, arbitrary arrest, and "deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to health." The participating countries urged all nations to "promote and protect human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity," and to end all criminal penalties against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In a press release issued by the Vatican on its website (www.vatican.va) on Dec 19, Archbishop Celestino Migliore says the Holy See opposes the Declaration as it "goes well beyond the above-mentioned and shared intent".
"In particular, the categories 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity', used in the text, find no recognition or clear and agreed definition in international law. If they had to be taken into consideration in the proclaiming and implementing of fundamental rights, these would create serious uncertainty in the law as well as undermine the ability of States to enter into and enforce new and existing human rights conventions and standards."
It is believed that the statements reference the Catholic Church's well-known concerns about same-sex marriage.
"The Holy See continues to advocate that every sign of unjust discrimination towards homosexual persons should be avoided and urges States to do away with criminal penalties against them."
According to the Catholic News Service, an explanatory note published Dec 19 in L'Osservatore Romano - the Vatican newspaper - said that if the resolution on sexual orientation aimed simply at ensuring no country treated homosexuality as a crime "there would have been no reason for the permanent observer of the Holy See in New York to criticise that document."
"The Catholic Church maintains that free sexual acts between adult persons must not be treated as crimes to be punished by civil authorities."
The note also highlighted that the way the resolution was written could open the way to the recognition of same-sex marriages and allow gay couples to adopt children, and could limit the right of the Catholic Church and other religious bodies to teach that while homosexual behaviour is not a criminal offense it is not morally acceptable.
Speaking to leaders of the Catholic Church during a Christmas assembly on Monday, Pope Benedict continued to condemn same-sex relations by saying that "saving" humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour is just as important as saving the rainforests, the UK Telegraph reported.
The 82-year-old pontiff said the Roman Catholic Church had a duty to "protect man from the destruction of himself" and urged respect for the "nature of the human being as man and woman."
He added: "The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less."
He added that the failure to respect the union between a man and a woman amounted to the "auto destruction of mankind."
The Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore did not respond when contacted by Fridae yesterday asking if the Catholic Archdiocese will support local campaigns seeking the repeal of Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code which criminalises sexual relations between men.