The second -highest Vatican official after Pope Francis received a delegation of advocates working to end LGBTQ criminalization laws and conversion therapy, a meeting described by one Catholic group as a “great step forward” but which should prompt further action.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, met with some 50 lawyers, politicians, and activists who presented him with research on anti-LGBTQ criminalization laws in the Caribbean that will be published next year by the Inter-American Institute for Human Rights. A statement from the Vatican Press Office, reported by La Stampa, described the meeting:
“Cardinal Parolin gave those present a brief greeting, reiterating the position of the Catholic Church in defense of the dignity of every human person and against all forms of violence. After listening to the speeches of some of the participants in the meeting, Cardinal Parolin then assured that he will inform the Holy Father about the contents of the research.”
The LGBT advocates included representatives from Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, the United Nations Latin American Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, and the International Bar Association. The three organizations released a joint statement after the meeting expressing their satisfaction with the gathering, but also outlined further requests they were making of the Vatican, including:
“We therefore humbly request the Church to declare that: Human dignity implies the respect of every person as created by God, hence criminalisation of LGBT peple is today, as in the darkest times in the history of humanity, a manifestation of irrational hatred for that which is different from the norm and that homophobia is, in effect, a feeling of hatred and rejection which the Church condemns, wherever it takes place.”
The groups also urged the Church to condemn anti-LGBTQ criminalization, to call on nations to implement non-discrimination policies to protect people based on sexual orientation and gender identity, to condemn so-called conversion therapy, and to instruct Church leaders globally to work for the abolition “of all forms of punishment for consented intimate sexual acts between adults, wherever they are still being criminally persecuted.”
Baronness Helena Ann Kennedy, director of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute and a participant in the meeting, said Parolin was “very responsive” to the group’s input, and “accepted” the group’s main point about Church teaching requiring a defense of human dignity even if there are other doctrinal issues, according to Reuters.