Support for LGBT equality is imminent in many countries, and right-wing religious conservatives are not happy that their perspectives are dying out. For some, this means blaring their vitriol louder and louder to make sure they’re heard. Vitus Huonder (below), the Bishop of Chur in Switzerland, is one of them.
In a debate on marriage and family held by the German Catholic Forum last week, Huonder didn’t stop at the phrases “traditional marriage” or “family values,” the way some conservatives do. He went all the way and cited Leviticus 20:13, the infamous verse suggesting that men “engaging in homosexual acts” be put to death.
Contacted by Le Temps, Norbert Blech, editor of German website queer.de, who was following the discourse, expressed his shock over the Bishop’s use of the passage, which he said is “highly unusual” in Germany.
According to Blech, Bishop Huonder said the passages he quoted were enough to “guide the question of homosexuality in the right direction from the point of view of faith,” an opinion that garnered applause from the mostly traditionalist audience.
Yep. This bishop said that a passage suggesting the execution of LGBT people is what should “guide the question” of equal rights. As many have pointed out, Huonder has made public statements against LGBT people before, so this isn’t especially shocking. Thankfully, Swiss media and its readers have been quick to point out the hypocrisy, absurdity, and downright poor timing of his comment.
Swiss LGBT magazine 360.ch underlined the incident’s “unfortunate” timing given a homophobic attack on Gay Pride in Jerusalem the previous day.
“It was in the name of these same Bible passages that a Jewish extremist stabbed six people”, the magazine’s editors said.
Meanwhile, commenters on 360.ch reacted in anger to the Bishop’s stance.
“I don’t understand why Pope Francis lets this so-called ‘man of God’ preach such insane things. Do people still not understand what happened during the Second World War?” said one reader, who gave her name as Dominique.
Priscilla.b commented: “I am surprised that paedophilia in the church creates less controversy than homosexuality.”
That last point is an important one. Gimma, a Swiss rapper who was an altar boy growing up, responded to Huonder’s comments in an article where he acknowledges being molested by Catholic officials as a child. The Google-generated English translation of the essay is a little wonky, but you can get the gist (I’m copying it here verbatim from Google Chrome’s translated version so as not to accidentally change any meaning, but the original version is here):
Dear Mr. Huonder, I do not know if you are interested, but I was forced no less than half a dozen believers and dignitaries sexually in my life. These people were all Catholic men. Young, old, old. Some attacks were trifles, others would have been quite recognized in criminal law. These gentlemen have sometimes only verbally to me, sometimes want to physically lay hands — and I’m male. Thus, these attacks homosexual (some pedophile) in nature.
Until now I was your style of leadership of the institution to which I belong baptized, hardly disturbed. You are an educated man. They have determined a division of knowledge to religion, my exceeding light years, and I’m going to presume in any way to judge your ability to know that religion in detail. I have since only a few questions.
As you may agree with you to define homosexuality as a killing ground if you need to know that countless representatives of your institution have innocent children being sexually abused – and of which a high percentage is bound to act homosexual? You can deny it. But then I think, however, that I could name at least a dozen such dignitaries with name and address, dead or alive. And I’m far from being a victim. I am one, there are a few more of us.
How do these officials expect to stay relevant if their go-to arguments call for murder? If they alienate a huge majority of the voting population by advocating for clear human rights violations? If they genuinely believe gays should be put to death? Can we ask that in the next debate?
(Image via Wikimedia Commons. Thanks to Statistique for the link. We changed the first line of the post to be more accurate.)