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As Brazil debates criminalization of ‘homophobia’, bishops worry about religious liberty

Freedom of religion needs to be taken into account when making “decisions concerning the criminalization of homophobia,” according to the head of Brazil’s bishops’ conference.

On June 13, Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled that acts of homophobia should be considered by the judiciary system as crimes of the same nature as racism. The Supreme Court’s decision will be valid until Congress passes specific legislation to regulate the issue.

“We hope the competent authorities recognize themselves as pilgrims in search of the truth – and not as the owners of the truth. Therefore, they will realize that the freedom of religion, secured by the Federal Constitution, presupposes the preservation of moral codes rooted in faith. This way, they will respect freedom of religion in judiciary decisions concerning the criminalization of homophobia,” said Bishop Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo, the president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (NCBB), in an article published on the website of the organization.

Azevedo said that the Catholic Church “has the duty of informing and guiding its followers on matrimony and family, according to the Christian perspective.”

“Such a mission cannot be considered as an offense against persons or groups.”

Citing a previous statement released by the NCBB, Azevedo points out that “there is a risk of equivocal interpretations in these processes [involving acts of homophobia].”

“In this sense, the NCBB … asked for more clarity in the processes in action in the judiciary system, so that the limits of interpretation do not generate attacks to untouchable values based on faith.”

Azevedo stressed in the document that the Catholic Church does not “admit any kind of discrimination” and emphasized “the importance of the solidary and respectful welcoming of every person.”

“It is always appropriate to reaffirm: the doctrine of the Catholic Faith does not spread violence, but cherishes a code of conducts engaged in the promotion of life, in all its stages, from conception to the decline with natural death.”

Read more at Crux. 

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