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Catholic Church now supports sodomy laws?

Maurice Tomlinson (Photo courtesy of Macalester.edu)
Maurice Tomlinson (Photo courtesy of Macalester.edu)

In this article, LGBT rights activist Maurice Tomlinson discusses the changing position of the Roman Catholic Church about sodomy laws, specifically as it relates to the ongoing constitutional challenge to the Belize sodomy law by Caleb Orozco, leader of the United Belize Advocacy Movement.

For those who are interested in the Belize case, the country’s Constitution refers to the supremacy of God.

WHEREAS the people of Belize-
(a) affirm that the Nation of Belize shall be founded upon principles which acknowledge the supremacy of God, faith in human rights and fundamental freedoms, the position of the family in a society of free men and free institutions, the dignity of the human person and the equal and inalienable rights with which all members of the human family are endowed by their Creator.

Roman Catholic cathedral in Belize.
Roman Catholic cathedral in Belize.

An overwhelming number of Belizeans are Catholic, as Roman Catholicism is accepted by about half of the population, while Protestantism by about a quarter.

It is therefore important for the current case challenging the anti-sodomy law to know exactly what the country’s most popular church actually teaches about criminalization of same-gender intimacy. As I said in a previous email, the Roman Catholic church is expected to appear tomorrow as an interested party calling for the retention of the anti-sodomy law.

Specifically, in 2008 the Catholic Church said:

“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.”

However, a Catholic priest at the trial has denied that this statement reflects the Church’s position. Ian Taylor, Catholic priest, Trinidad [on Channel5Belize.com]:

“That first of all is not the Vatican’s position. In fact, I think you can go online and see that the Holy See corrected that statement. That statement was made by the head of a department in the Vatican, but it does not represent the position of the church. The Vatican has corrected the statement by that official. In fact the official tried to correct his own statement, but he did not clarify it sufficiently.

So the Holy See has now issued a formal statement correcting it. The official position of the church is, with regard to that is, that homosexuality is a disorder under the Catholic Church and this is from the holistic side. In no way had it had said that this should be decriminalized. In other words, what’s on the law books; it did not make a statement that it should be decriminalized except that that official spoke, but not representing the Holy See.”

If you know of any changes to the Vatican’s position calling for decriminalization, please share. Better yet, if there is any way we can get the Holy See to refute this priest’s statement, that would be great!

***

Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi
Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi

I was sent this: the address that Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, permanent representative of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, delivered in March 2011 at the 16th Session of the Human Rights Council on “sexual orientation.”  The relevant section on criminalization reads:

“Second, for the purposes of human rights law, there is a critical difference between feelings and thoughts, on the one hand, and behavior, on the other. A state should never punish a person, or deprive a person of the enjoyment of any human right, based just on the person’s feelings and thoughts, including sexual thoughts and feelings.

But states can, and must, regulate behaviors, including various sexual behaviors. Throughout the world, there is a consensus between societies that certain kinds of sexual behaviors must be forbidden by law. Pedophilia and incest are two examples.”

Seems this is support for the retention of anti-sodomy laws.

Related articles

Belize court coverage, Day 1 and Day 2:

DAY 1
Dramatic scene: Challenge to Belize sodomy law under way
Belize challenge to anti-gay law, 140 characters at a time

DAY 2
Belize sodomy law on trial, Day 2

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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