The Vatican has made clear its opposition to the United Nations endorsing a universal declaration to decriminalize homosexuality.
Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican's apostolic nuncio to the United Nations, and Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said unjust forms of discrimination against homosexuals must be avoided.
However, the Vatican does not approve of a formal declaration with political weight that might be used to put pressure on or discriminate against countries that do not recognize same-sex marriage, they said.
A draft declaration, drawn up by France and endorsed by the European Union, was to be presented to the U.N. General Assembly Dec. 10. It condemns discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Archbishop Migliore told the French news agency I.Media Dec. 1 that adding these "new categories (to be) protected from discrimination" would create in turn "new and inflexible (forms of) discrimination."
For example, he said, "states that do not recognize same-sex unions as 'marriage' will be pilloried and put under pressure" to do so.
France, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, plans to present the proposal on the 60th anniversary of the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the hope that U.N. member states will make a nonbinding declaration to decriminalize homosexuality.
Almost 80 countries have laws prohibiting homosexual activity and several nations include the death penalty as a form of punishment for such activity.
Father Lombardi said that "obviously nobody wants to defend the death penalty for homosexuals."
The church supports fundamental human rights and opposes every form of "unjust discrimination" which includes "not just the death penalty, but all violent or discriminatory criminal laws against homosexuals," he said in a commentary on Vatican Radio Dec. 1.
The Vatican spokesman made his remarks after Archbishop Migliore's comments were published. He said the archbishop clearly expressed the church's and the Vatican's position.
Father Lombardi said the problem with the draft proposal is that it does not just ask for the decriminalization of homosexuality.
It also includes a declaration that might put pressure on or discriminate against communities that uphold marriage as only being between a man and a woman, the Vatican spokesman said.
Under such a declaration, nations or communities that "do not put every sexual orientation on exactly the same level can be considered contrary to the respect of human rights," he said.
It is no wonder then, he said, that fewer than 50 U.N. member states have endorsed the draft declaration and more than 150 have not signed on.
"The Vatican is not alone" in its opposition to the proposal, he said.
On Dec. 10, the U.N. General Assembly also was to be presented with a petition to make abortion a universally recognized human right.
Archbishop Migliore told I.Media that such a proposal was "sad and outrageous" and represented the kind of "modern savagery that will dismantle our society from the inside out."
The initiative would promote the dismantling of the human-rights system by allowing declarations that are no longer about promoting and protecting fundamental rights but about "personal choices," he said.