63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Author: LOR

63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly

L'Osservatore Romano

Holy See intervention on the Declaration on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity

Statement of the Holy See on the Declaration on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, 18 December [2008] at the 63rd Plenary Assembly of the United Nations, promoted by the French Presidency of the European Union.

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 abovementioned 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.

Despite the Declaration's rightful condemnation of and protection from all forms of violence against homosexual persons, the document, when considered in its entirety, 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.

The Defence of Rights and Ideologies

Concerning the Declaration on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, promoted by the French Presidency of the. E.U., at the United Nations.

The French document proposed to the United Nations is not a document, in primis, aiming at the decriminalization of homosexuality in countries where it is still persecuted, such as the media, simplifying the issue, have reported. Were this the case there would have been no reason for the Permanent Observer of the Holy See in New York to have criticized that document.

Moreover the Catholic Church, on the basis of a healthy secularism of the State, deems that freely practised sexual acts between adult persons must not be treated as crimes to be punished by the civil authority. In this regard, also recently, the Magisterium of the Church has affirmed that the dignity of homosexual persons "must always he respected in word, in action and in law" (Letter on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, N. 10,) and that "every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2358).

The Church's position on this topic — it is right to remember this — has always been moderate and consistent with her morals.

Yet this document, in reality, speaks of something else; in other words it promotes an ideology, that of "gender identity" and "sexual orientation". The categories of "sexual orientation" and "gender identity", which have no clear definition in international law, are introduced as new categories of discrimination and an attempt is made to apply them to the exercise of human rights.

Instead, it takes up controversial concepts on an international basis and not only for the Church, since they imply the idea that sexual identity is defined solely by culture and is thus susceptible to be transformed at will, according to individual desire or historical and social influences.

In essence, by introducing these categories, the biological anchorage of sexual differentiation is denied and it is perceived merely as a limitation rather than as a source of meaning, which, on the contrary, is what it is.

An impetus is given to the false conviction that sexual identity is produced by individual, unquestionable choices which, above all, deserve public recognition in every circumstance. Consequently what is being promoted here is a mistaken notion of parity whose intention is to define men and women in accordance with an abstract idea of the individual.

This is not, unfortunately, a question of marginal theories if one thinks that the proposals for the recognition of family rights of homosexual couples — including those regarding adoption and assisted procreation — are based on the idea that heterosexual polarity is not a founding element of society but rather an arbitrary notion to be blotted out.

Thus the attempt to introduce the above-mentioned categories of discrimination is welded to the attempt to obtain for same sex unions a status comparable to that of marriage, and, for homosexual couples, the possibility to adopt or "to procreate" children. These children would risk, among other things, never knowing one of their parents and being unable to live with him or her.

However this is not the only danger: the introduction of these categories places the exercise of other human rights at risk: only think of freedom of opinion and expression or freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Religions, for example might see their right to transmit their own teaching curtailed, when they hold that homosexual conduct freely practised by the faithful is not liable to penalization even if they do not consider it morally acceptable. And one of the primary rights on which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 is founded would thus be undermined: the right to freedom of religion.

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
24/31 December 2008, page 2

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