Italian homophobia bill will ‘be used to persecute the Church’: HLI Rome head
ROME, January 16, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Italian Senate is again considering the “Mancino law,” a bill that proposes to criminalize “homophobia,” but this time the bill is gaining increasing opposition – both from Christians, who are concerned about civil liberties, and from homosexual activists, who consider that amendments have rendered it “toothless.”
On Saturday, a large rally was held in Rome against the bill organized by the recently formed Manif Pour Tous Italia, a civil liberties association that is concerned that such laws curtail human rights, rather than defending them. Opponents have been vocal in their concerns that the bill will threaten Article 21 in the Italian constitution that guarantees freedom of thought and opinion and the safeguards of the natural family in Articles 29, 30 and 32 that specify that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro, whith degrees in secular law and theology and the head of the Rome office of Human Life International attended the rally and spoke about it to LifeSiteNews.com. He said that the threat of the law is two-fold. First, the bill will “make a crime of homophobia,” which he said is defined so broadly in the legislation that it can be used as a weapon against anyone the homosexual movement dislikes.
But second, Msgr. Barreiro said, it is intended to smooth the way forward for the imposition of “gay marriage” or civil union legislation that is already in the works.
The bill has been approved by the lower chamber of Italy’s parliament and Barreiro said, “there is a serious risk that it will pass.”
Simply put, he said, the law will likely “be used to persecute the Church, priests who say homosexuality is a vice.”
The Church, he said, as well as the non-Catholic elements in the opposition movement Manif Pour Tous Italia, “believe in the authentic human rights of everyone. All human rights have to be protected.”
“The current laws, which protect all human rights of individuals, are sufficient to protect persons with that inclination,” he said.
This new law, he said, with its “juridical imprecision” will reiterate as crimes things that are already crimes under Italy’s penal code. “But we enter into the problematic area when this law could make it a crime just to criticize homosexual activity.” This is where the law will start to impinge on recognized and fundamental rights and freedoms considered essential to a democratic state.
“It’s perfectly moral, a human right, to have freedom of thought and opinion,” he said. “It’s a human right to express your moral and religious views.” It is not enough, he added, to have the law acknowledge the right to hold differing opinions, but it is essential to have both “the right of expression of opinion. The liberty of thought and of the diffusion of thought.”
At the rally on Saturday, a representative of the French group HomoVox – which “brings together hundreds of homosexuals against the law on gay marriage” in France and elsewhere – said, “In France, we have serious doubts about this issue.”
Jean-Pier Delaume-Myard, a self-described homosexual who does not identify with the “gay” movement, said, “As a homosexual, and since the beginning of my commitment, I do not work in favor of a political party and not even in favor of a community. I do not like communitarianism. I wrestle in good conscience and with all my strength, so that every child has a father and a mother.”
He added, “If I were straight, I would have pursued the same objective, namely that of rationality!”
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“My commitment has nothing to do with my sexual orientation,” he said.
Msgr. Barreiro commented on the large number of so-called conservative politicians who support the notion of civil unions and in general the goals of the homosexual movement, saying that for some it is like a form of “Stockholm Syndrome” in which they are interested in appeasing their ideological opponents.
In many cases, he said, conservatives have uncritically parroted the Left's party line of “equality.”
“Many so-called conservatives” in the UK “are in favor of this agenda,” he said. “Even more so, I would say, like the Republicans” in America “are heavily in favor of promoting homosexuality.”
Such politicians, he said, are “influenced by 19th century libertarianism. They think that homosexuality is a right that cannot be criticized. So they consider it a matter of freedom.”
“Also, some of them are homosexuals themselves,” he added.
If the bill is passed, he said the opponents of the homosexual political agenda remain morally bound to fight it.
“My thought is that Catholics, not only priests, but all Catholics will have to respond to this law, teaching with precision the teaching of the Church on homosexuality.
“First that, the inclination itself is a disorder,” he said. “Obviously it’s a cross, but it is also a disorder, something that should not be there.”
Second, “we must insist that engaging in homosexual conduct is itself morally wrong.”
“We have to continue to make this distinction between the disordered inclination and the decision of the will to act upon it,” he told LifeSiteNews.
Catholics must continue to insist upon these principles, he said, “even if it becomes illegal to do so.”
One of the objectives of a law like this it to prevent the Catholic Church, and in some countries the protestant churches, to teach the teachings of Christianity.
Another of the bill’s prominent parliamentary opponents, Deputy Eugenia Roccella, said today that a number of amendments have been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee “that further worsen the already bad text approved in the House.”
She noted that the bill is “not loved by anyone and everyone is unhappy.” This includes, “on the one hand, the LGBT associations and activists who think it is not effective, on the other all those who, on the contrary, see in this bill the creation of new forms of discrimination and dangers to the freedom of expression and association of citizens. The only possible way out is to abandon the Mancino law and to return to the proposal of specific aggravating circumstance for offenses against the person engaged in Article 61 of the Criminal Code.”
The bill, she said, is now supported only by the “ideological Left,” which is using it purely as an act of political “provocation”; and warned that these want only to “impose on the country...laws that humiliate the family.”
Organizers of the rally and others are however growing increasingly disappointed with the lack of direct involvement of Catholic Church officials against the bill in the capital of this still heavily Catholic country. At this weekend’s rally, Marco Tosatte writing for La Stampa, noted that “of all the bishops, archbishops and cardinals that fill the city of Rome” only one chose to attend: the American Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, the head of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, or “supreme court.”
“The only one present, the only one to make the support of the Church felt, the only one to give moral support in a battle on principles that are non-negotiable, being fought for by laity who are vigorously leading the battle against oppression of the spirit and of freedom of expression—the only one was Cardinal Burke,” Dominic Musso on the website Porta Sant’Anna, the site of the LASCA (Laboratorio Sociale Cattolico) said.
The next Manif Pour Tous Italia event is planned for Florence on Saturday, January 19.