VATICAN CITY – The Vatican has protested to Italy against a bill to combat homophobia, saying that in its current form it could restrict the religious freedom of the Catholic Church in Italy.
The protest, first reported by the Corriere della Sera on Tuesday and confirmed by a Vatican official, was handed over to the Italian embassy at the Holy See on June 17 by the Vatican Foreign Minister.
The protest is directed against the so-called “Zan Law”, named after Alessandro Zan, a gay member of the center-left Democratic Party. It was passed in the lower house of parliament and is currently being discussed in a committee of the Senate.
The Vatican believes that the currently enacted law violates the 1929 Lateran Pacts, which established Vatican City as a sovereign state and governed relations between it and Italy.
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The Vatican fears that the written law could lead to the Church in Italy being criminalized for refusing to conduct gay marriages, resisting adoption by gay couples by Catholic institutions, or refusing to teach gender theory in Catholic schools, such a source from the Vatican.
While the Vatican has often condemned discrimination and violence against gays, it has also expressed concern about any kind of gender theory that would blur or eliminate the differences between men and women.
In April, the Roman Catholic bishops of Italy criticized the law, saying that “a law that aims to combat discrimination cannot achieve this goal through intolerance and questioning the reality of the difference between men and women”.
The bishops said the law did not materially address the “uniqueness of the family” led by a heterosexual couple.
Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right league, welcomed the Vatican’s move.
“We say ‘yes’ to loving whoever you want and ‘yes’ to fighting discrimination and ‘yes’ to punishing all forms of violence,” he said.
“But we are against any censorship or litigation for those who believe that mother, father and family are at the heart of our society,” he said.