The Vatican has made an “unprecedented” formal diplomatic objection to a draft Italian law against homophobia, a news report said Tuesday.
The so-called Zan law, which is currently being debated in Italy’s parliament, seeks to punish acts of discrimination and incitement to violence against gay, lesbian, transgender and disabled people.
According to the Corriere della Sera newspaper, the Vatican argued in a formal note that the bill violates the Concordat, the bilateral treaty between Italy and the Holy See.
“It is an unprecedented act in the history of relations between the two states — or at least, there are no public precedents,” the daily said.
Pope Francis’ de facto foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, delivered a letter, or “note verbale”, to the Italian embassy to the Holy See on June 17, the paper said.
The letter suggested that the Zan law would breach the Concordat by curtailing Catholic freedom of belief and expression.
This is because Catholic schools would not be exempted from an obligation to take part in a newly-created national day against homophobia, lesbophobia and transphobia.
The letter also expressed concern that Catholics could in the future face legal action for expressing opinions against LGBTI rights, Corriere said.
Corriere noted that even if the Holy See had “never before” taken such a step against a draft Italian law, the Concordat gives it the right to do so.
Neither the Vatican nor the Italian foreign ministry responded to requests for comment on the Corriere report, published four days before Rome’s 2021 Gay Pride parade.
The Zan law was passed by the lower house of parliament in November, but its final approval is far from guaranteed as it faces stiff opposition from right-wing parties in the Senate.