Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the apostolic nuncio leading the Holy See’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations, has called for an end to unjust discrimination and criminal penalties directed against homosexual persons. However, he reiterated concerns that a U.N. proposal advocating legal protections for "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" is ill-defined and overbroad.
On Thursday afternoon Archbishop Migliore, speaking to a session of the UN General Assembly, remarked: "the Holy See appreciates the attempts made in the 'Declaration on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity' - presented at the UN General Assembly on 18 December 2008 - to condemn all forms of violence against homosexual persons as well as urge States to take necessary measures to put an end to all criminal penalties against them."
"At the same time, the Holy See notes that the wording of this Declaration goes well beyond the above-mentioned and shared intent," he added.
He said the document’s categories of "sexual orientation" and "gender identity," under international law, "find no recognition or clear and agreed definition."
"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," the archbishop stated.
Saying the document rightfully condemns "all forms of violence against homosexual persons," and rightfully seeks to protect them from violence, he said that in total the document "goes beyond this goal and instead gives rise to uncertainty in the law and challenges existing human rights norms."
"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," Archbishop Migliore concluded.
According to Reuters, in the past the archbishop has warned that the European-backed text could lead to reverse discrimination, warning "states which do not recognize same-sex unions as 'matrimony' will be pilloried and made an object of pressure."
Reuters reports that sponsors of the European resolution say "homosexuality" is punishable by law in 77 countries and by death in seven countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia.
An Arab-backed statement read by Syria at the U.N. on Thursday said the text could lead to "the social normalization, and possibly the legitimization, of many deplorable acts including pedophilia." The Arab statement voiced concern about attempts to "create 'new rights' or 'new standards,' by misinterpreting the Universal Declaration and international treaties."
Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi told Reuters that the Vatican did not support the Arab-backed statement.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that men and women with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" must be treated with "respect, compassion, and sensitivity" and says "Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."
Calling homosexual persons to chastity, the Catechism says that Church teaching, following Sacred Scripture’s presentation of homosexual acts as "acts of grave depravity," considers such acts "intrinsically disordered" and "under no circumstances" should be approved of.