The Vatican has confirmed lodging a diplomatic protest against a new bill to be considered by Italian law, which would protect the rights of members of the LGBTQ+ community.
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The Zan bill—named after LGBT activist and politician, Alessandro Zan—seeks to punish discrimination and incitements to violence against members of the gay community, as well as women and people living with disabilities.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni confirmed to AFP that a letter had been ‘informally delivered’ to the Italian ambassador to the Holy See on June 17.
What are the Vatican’s concerns?
According to local media, the Vatican is arguing that the bill is a violation of the Concordat—the bilateral treaty between Rome and the Holy—by limiting freedom of belief and expression of Catholics.
In its letter to the Italian government, the Vatican is objecting to Catholic schools not being exempted from a proposed national day against homophobia, and transphobia, scheduled to be held on 17 May every year. The bill proposes that schools and other public bodies should hold:
Ceremonies, meetings and any other appropriate activity to promote the culture of respect and inclusion, combat prejudices, discrimination and violence motivated by sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Holy See is also raising fears over the possibility of Catholics facing legal actions for expressing their views on LGBT issues, under the Zan law.
Reactions to the bill
Opponents of the bill including leader of the far-right League, Matteo Salvini said his party fully supports the objections put forward by the Vatican.
While insisting he was against any form or of discrimination, Salvini the bill could be used as a censorship tool.
No to censorship and trials for those who believe that mum, dad and family are the heart of our society.
The centre-left lawmaker who is sponsoring the bill, Alessandro Zan dismissed the concerns raised by the Vatican and insisted the bill is not seeking to censor free speech and religious expression. He said in a tweet:
The text [of the law] does not restrict in any way freedom of expression or religious freedom. And it respects the autonomy of all schools.