Even in a moment when some church leaders express a new openness to LGBTQ equality, other Catholic leaders continue to oppose legislation that would grant LGBTQ equal rights. Today’s post features three examples of this opposition.
The Archdiocese of Singapore has joined with other religious groups to oppose repealing the nation’s law that criminalizes homosexuality, known as Section 377A of the Penal Code. However, the archdiocese did support non-enforcement of the law to eliminate prosecutions related to same-gender sexual acts. The Straits Times reported:
“Any change to Section 377A would lead to adjustments in national policies relating to marriage, family, children, education, media, housing, and more, the [Alliance of Pentecostal & Charismatic Churches in Singapore ] said, and warned that if the family unit is undermined, it would ‘result in a suite of knock-on effects’ including the erosion of societal strength and resilience.
“The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore, meanwhile, said: ‘We are fortunate that we have a government that places stability and harmony in our multi-religious and multiracial society above any sectarian interests.’
“It added that the Catholic Church does not condone the marginalisation of those who do not subscribe to its values, including the LGBT+ community.
“‘Likewise, we ask that others who do not subscribe to our values, also respect our right to exercise our religious beliefs without fear or favour,’ said the archdiocese.”
Questions about Section 377A have arisen after an appeals court ruled last month that the law was “unenforceable in its entirety” even while it remains a law, reported The Straits Times. Activists have sought Section 377A’s repeal since 2007. It was only in 2018 that the nation’s attorney general said it would be government policy not to prosecute private sexual relations.
Bishop Dode Gjergii of Prizern joined a multi-faith declaration to oppose a civil marriage equality bill set to be discussed by the nation’s parliament. Balkan Insight reported on the declaration, which was also signed by Muslim, Jewish, and Evangelical Christian leaders:
“‘The religious communities remain united when it comes to the protection and daily promotion of family values, pro-life values, the traditional values of marriage, the right of the fetus from conception to birth, and the natural right of gender as a predetermination for each citizen,” the joint declaration reads.
“Kosovo law currently does not allow same sex marriages. The constitution, on the other hand, recognizes that ‘on the basis of free consent, everyone enjoys the right to marry and the right to create a family in accordance with the law’.
“The new draft civil code writes that ‘registered civil unions between people of same sex are allowed’.”
Kosovo is nearly 90% Muslim. Even with the religious leaders’ objections, both the ruling and opposition parties have indicated support for some legal recognition for same-gender couples.
In Nebraska, Bishop James Conley of Lincoln wrote a column in the diocese’s newspaper, Southern Nebraska Register, in which he voiced opposition to a proposed LGBTQ non-discrimination ordinance.
Using the phrase “love the sinner but hate the sin,” Conley objected to the Lincoln City Council’s passage of the Fairness Ordinance updates that would make sexual orientation and gender identity protected classes. He then encouraged Catholics to stop it for fear such non-discrimination would spread, writing:
“While the City Council passed this ordinance, we still have an important opportunity to let our voices be heard and halt this policy. The Nebraska Family Alliance has filed a referendum petition opposing the city ordinance. If enough signatures are gathered (4,137 signatures), it will stop the ordinance from being enacted. The City Council can then either repeal the ordinance or let the voters decide whether it should go into legal effect. I encourage all of us who are eligible to sign the petition. . .If bad policy like the Fairness Ordinance is enacted in the City of Lincoln, it is likely that politicians in other Nebraska municipalities will seek to impose similar ordinances.”
Even though some church leaders continue to support policies that criminalize and discriminate against LGBTQ people, last year hundreds of Catholic theologians and leaders affirmed the idea that LGBTQ non-discrimination is entirely consistent with and even demanded by Catholic tradition. You can read their ideas in New Ways Ministry’s statement “A Home for All,”
—Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, March 9, 2022