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Swiss bishop stands firm against proposed law to criminalize criticism of LGBT

Bishop Marian Eleganti, the auxiliary bishop of Chur spoke out against the chilling effect a proposed pro-LGBT law might have on free speech.
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His Excellency Marian Eleganti, auxiliary bishop of Chur, Switzerland. KATH.NET / YouTube
Dorothy Cummings McLean By Dorothy Cummings McLean

Dorothy Cummings McLean By Dorothy Cummings McLean

CHUR, Switzerland, December 9, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― A single Swiss Catholic bishop is standing firm against proposed new legislation that could criminalize Catholic teachings on sexuality in his country.

Bishop Marian Eleganti, OSB, the auxiliary bishop of Chur, spoke out against the chilling effect the law might have on free speech. His candour throws into sharp relief the neutral stance of the Swiss Bishops’ Conference. It has not taken a side in the campaign for and against the extension of the country’s anti-racism legislation to include sexual orientation.

According to Switzerland’s Tagblatt news portal, the bishop warned, “This law risks criminalizing all opinions that differ from the LGBT lobby in matters of marriage, family, or sexual immorality.”

Eleganti believes that current legislation against violence and discrimination suffices to protect all groups in Swiss society and that LGBT people, like vegans and Catholics, need no special protection. Freedom of speech, however, may suffer a blow if the new law passes.

“Criticizing the LGBT lobby’s opinions must continue to be allowed if we see ourselves as a liberal, tolerant society," the bishop said.

The co-president of Switzerland’s LGBT lobby group “Pink-Cross” has argued that the new law would not undermine legitimate freedom of expression.

“Hate is not opinion,” said Michel Rudin, who believes that violent attacks on homosexuals are caused by anti-LBGT speech.

According to Tagblatt, a law professor at the University of Zurich analyzed several examples of public statements about homosexuality to see if they would run afoul of the proposed new law. Professor Isabelle Häner came to the conclusion that a statement by Bishop Jean-Marie Lovey of Sitten (Sion) that homosexuality is a “weaknesss of nature” that can be cured could be against the law. It would depend on whether or not the “possible discrimination was intentional or not.”

Had the law already been passed, Eleganti might have found himself on the wrong side of it when he suggested a link between a clerical homosexual subculture and the Church’s sexual abuse crisis.

In an interview with EWTN Germany, the auxiliary bishop quoted the report of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury when he said: “90% [of the abuse cases] are in direct connection with a homosexual inclination.”

The victims “were not children, they were 16 to 17 years old,” he said, and he noted that some of the victims of predator priests were seminarians.

“It would be blind to deny that we do have here a problem in the Church with homosexuality and that homosexuality plays a role here,” he continued.

“Perhaps this leads us also to a new sobriety before we simply regard homosexuality as a valuable variant of creation, just like a heterosexual marriage[.]”

Possibly even Pope Francis could get into difficulties in Switzerland with some of his opinions on homosexuality. Quoting the pontiff in his interview with EWTN, Bishop Eleganti said also that “Pope Francis recently said that we cannot admit to the priesthood, to the seminaries, people with a deep-seated homosexual inclination.”

Eleganti was reproached for his remarks by the neighboring diocese of St. Gallen, in which he was born.

“We contradict and distance ourselves clearly from the statement of Auxiliary Bishop Marian Eleganti,” stated a spokesperson for St. Gallen on Facebook. 

“It is unbearable that the topic of abuse is being connected with the topic [of] homosexuality,” the representative continued.

“Such a statement is the opposite of serious attempts to avoid future sexual assaults and to a coming to terms with the terrible things that have happened to the victims in the past. And it especially wounds homosexual people in their dignity; that is not acceptable.”

The current ordinary of St. Gallen is Bishop Markus Büchel.

Swiss voters will determine the fate of the proposed new bill when they go to the polls in February.


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