Homophobia bill would breach Lateran Treaty - Vatican

Draghi say will address parl'mt Wednesday

(ANSA) - ROME, JUN 22 - The Vatican has expressed concern that an anti-homophobia bill being examined in parliament could breach the 1929 Lateran Treaty that regulates relations between the Italian State and the Holy See/Catholic Church if it becomes law, sources said on Tuesday.
    The concerns about the so-called Zan bill were raised in an informal communique to the Italian embassy to Holy See from Monsignor Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican's Secretary for Relations with States, the sources said.
    The Zan bill features measures to prevent and combat discrimination and violence based on motives linked to a person's sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.
    It would make such acts an aggravating factor in felonies, like racism already is.
    The Holy See's communique reportedly said the bill could affect the religious freedom that the Lateran Treaty guarantees the Catholic church.
    Several of Italy's centre-right parties oppose the Zan bill and an alternative homophobia bill has been presented by Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia (FI) and Matteo Salvini's League.
    The League has been especially active in trying to block the Zan bill, describing it as "divisive and ideological" and arguing it could hamper freedom of expression.
    The Zan bill's backers say this is not true, arguing the text has safeguards to ensure that, for example, Catholic politicians can still publicly say they think homosexuality is sinful.
    When asked about the Vatican's intervention on Tuesday, Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, the prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, said "there is certainly the concern of the Vatican and of each one of us." Enrico Letta, the leader of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) that backs that bill, said he was open to making amendments.
    "We support that Zan bill and, naturally, we are willing to have dialogue," Letta told RAI radio.
    "We are ready to look at the legal issues of contention, but we support the framework of the law, which is a civilized law".
    Letta added that he wanted to read the communique before commenting further.
    Vatican sources, meanwhile, said the Holy See did not want to halt the Zan bill completely but see it "reshaped so that the Church can continue to perform its pastoral, educational and social activities freely".
    Premier Mario Draghi said he would answer questions about the issue in parliament on Wednesday.
    "It is an important question," he said. (ANSA).
   

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