The Vatican was reported to oppose a law that could punish Christians for standing on Biblical views.
WND said that Vatican has "suddenly" awakened to oppose the Zan bill that is currently being reviewed by the Italian Senate. The Vatican is opposing the proposed law since it infringes an agreement between the Italian government on religious freedom.
As reported last month, the Vatican sent a letter called "note verbale" to the Italian government through Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher that rebukes the Zan law. This "unprecedented" move of the Vatican pointed to the Italian government its violation of the 1929 bilateral agreement "Concordat" or the Lateran Treaty that protects Catholic beliefs and expression.
Bitter Winter highlighted that the Zan Law's Article 2 paragraphs 2 and 3 particularly violates the Concordat.
The Italian Bishops Conference criticized the Zan law--authored by Alessandro Zan--as an excessive law since there are already current laws against discrimination against homosexuals yet it also criminalizes those who speak on Biblical marriage while threatening "freedom of thought" and "freedom of organization" in the Vatican.
WND stressed that "believers could face severe penalties for sticking to Biblical teaching," which are often contrary to the LGBTQ+ agenda. The Zan Law "would extend special nondiscrimination protections" to those "those who choose an alternative sexual lifestyle" such as the members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The Zan Law was an amendment to Italy's 1993 Legge Mancino law by adding sexual orientation to the umbrella of protections given against discrimination.
"But critics (among which, by the way, are also some prominent homosexuals, and feminist activists) mention some flaws in the bill, while approving the provisions against all kind of violence and incitement to violence against LGBT+ persons," Bitter Winter pointed out.
The first objection critics have on Zan Law deals with the vagueness of its definition on gender identity that relies solely on the perception of the person, which is very subjective and easily open to "arbitrary interpretations."
"The risk, critics say, is that every expression of legitimate criticism of the notion of 'gender identity' by anyone can be constructed as hate speech, curtailing freedom of expression," Bitter Winter stressed.
"Critics argue that in the case of priests and pastors, rabbis and imams, catechists or simple religious believers, every theological, philosophical, and moral criticism of any sexual behavior based on religion and theology could be labeled as 'hate speech,'" the outlet added, "and the supposed trespasser brought to court. It is the case also for agnostics or atheists, who could be sanctioned if they express opposition to a specific sexual behavior based on their own secular philosophy."
The second objection zones in on the probability that teachers in Catholic schools will be forced to teach something on homosexuality against their religious beliefs out of fear that they will be sanctioned by the law. The Zan Law's article 7 particularly institutes a National Day Against all Forms of Homophobia for celebration in schools every May 7.
"The Holy See is afraid that freedom of teaching their traditional doctrine on homosexuality may expose priests and lay believers to the serious penalties imposed by the law against those who create a 'danger of discrimination.' Of course, within the Catholic Church, there are different positions about homosexuality. What the Vatican is trying to do is to protect the expression of all of them, conservative as well as liberal," Bitter Winter disclosed.
Bitter Winter said amidst accusations on Vatican interfering with politics, the true problem lies in the fact that the Concordat is an international treaty that supersedes Italian domestic law and all Catholics "immunity from prosecution when they teach" Catholic doctrine. The Vatican's "unprecedented" move is really about religious freedom protected by that international treaty.