The Mafia’s sexual morality not so far removed
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The Irish Times reports today that members of Italy’s mafia meted out a punishment of gang rape against one of their number they suspected of being gay. The man was raped while in prison two years ago by eight others, resulting in him requiring medical treatment. None of his attackers were punished by the authorities.
Having recently watched Suddenly, Last Winter, a documentary on Italy and same-sex relationships, I really wouldn’t be surprised if Italian mainstream society agreed with this attack. Some of the opinions voiced in that film were deeply vicious and homophobic.
Religion was frequently at the source of the hatred of gays in the film. With the likes of the Iona Institute having a disproportionately loud voice in this country, not to mention the likes of Iris Robinson in Northern Ireland, we in Irish society need to be vigilant against the language and attitudes of hatred around us.
Prominent members of this society – public figures and those in the media – have a duty and a responsibility when discussing issues relating to minorities – including lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans people. The logical outcome, otherwise, of intolerant or hateful statements is the type of violence mentioned above.
Current Pope Benedict XVI – formerly Cardinal Ratzinger (and not Nazinger, ahem) – stated in the 1980s when he was head of the Vatican’s policy division, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (previously known as the Holy Office of the Inquisition):
It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the church’s pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.
But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase (No. 10).
What is at all costs to be avoided is the unfounded and demeaning assumption that the sexual behavior of homosexual persons is always and totally compulsive and therefore inculpable. What is essential is that the fundamental liberty which characterizes the human person and gives him his dignity be recognized as belonging to the homosexual person as well (No. 11)
You might also like to read: Freedom of expression or incitement to hatred?
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