Italian Bishops Decry Anti-Homophobia Bills as Threat to Freedom

Transgender boy Damian of New York takes part in the NYC Pride March as part of World Pride commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising on June 30, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

ROME — The Italian bishops have blasted proposed anti-homo/transphobia laws as both unnecessary and stifling of freedom of thought.

“The introduction of further criminal norms would risk opening up liberticidal currents,” the bishops declare in a statement Wednesday, “so that, rather than curbing discrimination, they would end up dealing a blow to the expression of legitimate opinions.”

The bishops note that this has been the experience of other nations in which similar laws have been introduced, where it is no longer considered acceptable to express opposition to same-sex marriage or to openly espouse biblical beliefs regarding the immorality of homosexual acts.

“For example, prosecuting those who believe that the family requires a father and a mother rather than two fathers or two mothers would mean introducing a thought crime,” the bishops continue.

“This effectively limits personal freedom, educational choices, ways of thinking and being, and the exercise of criticism and dissent,” they add.

The bishops hasten to reassert their total opposition to unjust discrimination, including discrimination based on sexual orientation, noting that “threats, aggression, injuries, bullying, and stalking” are an attack on the sacredness of human life and must therefore be strenuously rejected.

Yet such behavior is already proscribed by Italian law, which contains “adequate safeguards to prevent and repress any violent or persecutory behavior,” they declare, and thus there is no “regulatory vacuum” to be filled.

The bishops’ statement constitutes a response to bills against homo/transphobia crimes currently under examination at the Justice Commission of the Chamber of Deputies.

For example, the Zan-Scalfarotto bill would modify Italy’s penal code and effectively outlaw the expression of opinions against homosexuality or transgenderism considered hateful. Some have expressed concern that the enactment of such a law would require deputizing law enforcement as thought police.

In their statement Wednesday, the bishops assert their belief that current anti-discrimination laws should be enforced and a further educational effort should be promoted to advance greater respect for every human person.

They conclude by calling for “an authentic and intellectually honest confrontation” rather than name-calling and mutual condemnation.

“To the extent that this dialogue takes place in freedom, both respect for the person and the democracy of the country will benefit,” they state.

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