Pope Benedict XVI believed that LGBT+ people were disordered and morally evil (Photo: Rvin88)
Following his recent death, many have lauded the former Pope, Benedict XVI, who abdicated in 2015. Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, however, remembers Benedict for his homophobia that impacted millions around the world. This includes the Catholics who represent almost 20 percent of Africa’s population, as well as their families and communities.
Pope Benedict was an unrepentant homophobe. Some of his doctrinal declarations on homosexuality echoed the bigotry of far-right and Islamist extremists.
In 1992, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he authored an official Vatican declaration: Some Considerations Concerning the Catholic Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons.
This stated that a homosexual orientation is an “objective disorder” and a “tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil”.
It also asserted that: “The practice of homosexuality may seriously threaten the lives and well-being of a large number of people…(it is) behaviour to which no one has any conceivable right.”
It demanded that Catholics oppose LGBT+ equality and laws protecting LGBTs against discrimination; saying there is “no right” to be gay and declaring that the human rights of LGBTs can be “legitimately limited”.
It compares restrictions on the human rights of homosexual people to what it deems to be the necessary and justified restrictions placed by society on “contagious or mentally ill persons”.
Benedict noted that some forms of anti-gay discrimination are “not unjust” and may even be “obligatory” – especially with regard to “the consignment of children to adoption or foster care, in employment of teachers or coaches, and in military recruitment”.
Benedict’s declaration went on to suggest that when LGBTs seek equal human rights “neither the Church nor society should be surprised when … irrational and violent reactions increase”.
This was widely interpreted as implying that LGBT+ people provoke homophobic prejudice and violence, bringing hatred upon themselves and being responsible for their own suffering as a result of our illegitimate demands for equality.
He seemed to be blaming the victims of homophobia, not the perpetrators.
Benedict sanctioned the infliction of huge suffering on millions of LGBTs worldwide, including persecuting gay clergy and gay Catholics who supported LGBT+ equality. His 1992 declaration remains official Vatican policy.
He will not be mourned by the LGBT+ community.
Peter Tatchell is a longstanding British LGBT+ and human rights activist and is the Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.