The Vatican is pushing Italy to block a proposed anti-homophobia law making its way through the European country’s parliament over concerns it’ll clash with Catholic practices, reports said.
Archbishop Paul Gallagher wrote a letter to Italian government officials last week looking for changes to the so-called Zan Law, which would criminalize discrimination and violence against LGBTQ people as well as disabled people and women, Corriere della Sera first reported.
Gallagher allegedly said the law, as written, would violate a treaty between the sovereign Vatican and Italy dating back to 1984 that gave “full freedom” of the church to “carry out” its mission, according to The Catholic Telegraph.
That 1984 agreement was an update to the 1929 Lateran Pacts, the Telegraph said.
Critics said it was unusual for the Vatican to insert itself so directly into Italian government affairs.
“It’s the first time the church has done something like this,” Robert Mickens, editor of Catholic newspaper La Croix, told the Guardian. “They’re worrying about being fined for hate speech.”
The new law would create a “National Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia” and the Vatican has sought to ensure Catholic schools are exempted, the BBC reported. Democratic Party member Alessandra Zan, whom the bill is named for, said it comes with religious exemptions.
Zan tweeted in Italian that “there can be no foreign interference” in the work of parliament.
The church has had a softening position on the LGBTQ community but doesn’t recognize gay marriages or offer adoption to same sex couples, Reuters reported.
“While the Vatican has often condemned discrimination and violence against gays, it has also expressed concern about any type of gender theory that would blur or eliminate the differences between men and women,” Reuters said.
Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-leaning Northern League, sided with the Vatican on the issue. The group was in favor of anti-discrimination and anti-violence measures, he said.
“But we are against any censorship or trials for those who believe that mother, father and family are at the heart of our society,” Salvini said, according to Reuters.
Others criticized the intervention, including an atheist group called the Union of Atheists and Agnostic Rationalists.
“The government has the political and moral obligation to not only just resist pressure but to unilaterally denounce this unprecedented interference in state affairs,’’ the group said in a statement to the Associated Press.
The law passed the parliament’s lower chamber but remains in discussion in the Italian Senate.
With Post wires