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Home > Lifestyle News > Culture News > Article > The Vatican has said it cannot bless same sex marriage heres how Mumbais LGBTQIA community reacted

The Vatican has said it cannot bless same-sex marriage; here’s how Mumbai’s LGBTQIA+ community reacted

Updated on: 02 June,2022 05:09 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Nascimento Pinto |

The Vatican statement said the Catholic Church could not bless same-sex unions as it cannot ‘bless sin’; less than a month ago, the Indian government told the Delhi High Court, “In India, marriage is a bond between a biological man and a biological woman”, despite the Supreme Court decriminalising gay sex in 2018

The Vatican has said it cannot bless same-sex marriage; here’s how Mumbai’s LGBTQIA+ community reacted

A person waves a flag representing the LGBTQIA+ community at a parade. Photo: istock

The Vatican said this week in an official note that the Catholic Church could not bless same-sex marriage because it cannot “bless sin”. The statement was issued by the Vatican’s orthodoxy office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and approved by Pope Francis, according to an AP report. The statement said: “God does not and cannot bless sin: He blesses sinful man, so that he may recognize that he is part of his plan of love and allow himself to be changed by him.”  
In India, on September 6, 2018, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court decriminalised consensual same-sex relationships by reading down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. But a little less than a month ago, in the context of gay marriage, the government of India told the Delhi High Court that living together as same-sex partners was not comparable to the Indian concept of a family unit. In its statement, the government said, “In India, marriage is a bond between a biological man and a biological woman.” It said in the landmark 2018 judgment, the Supreme Court decriminalised Section 377, but said that it has only decriminalised “a particular human behaviour”, but “neither intended to, nor did in fact, legitimise the human conduct in question”. 
However, The Vatican’s two-page statement, which was released on Monday, has upset members of Mumbai’s LGBTQIA+ community. reached out to them for their views on the development.  

City-based stand-up comedian Navin Noronha expressed his frustration with the Church’s decision. He said he was a practising Catholic till 2014, but walked away from the Church and is now an atheist. Noronha says he has been “actively speaking against the Church in his comedy or writings because its views are archaic, and women and queer people don’t feel comfortable with them”. 
Reacting to the Vatican’s statement, Noronha said, “I feel there has been a weird holding back by the Catholic Church. When the new pope was chosen, I always deep down knew that the posturing was going to run out sooner or later.” He adds that there has been a two-fold agenda since the new pope was elected, which was: “How do we appeal to younger people? So let’s say gay people are cool and welcome in the Church, but now when it is about officialising same-sex weddings, it is not possible”.

Daniel Mendonca

Daniel Mendonca, another member of Mumbai’s LGBTQIA+ community and an active part of the Church, is an intersex activist who believes that even though same-sex unions aren’t blessed in the Church, just because they don’t approve it, doesn’t mean that such marriages don’t exist (note: legally, India does not recognise same-sex marriage). 
“For me, if they say that homosexuality is something we accept but we can’t bless it, then in some way, it means that you have not accepted us as human beings,” Mendonca says. She adds, “If a family is ready to accept two individuals for what they are and who they are, I think the blessing of the Church will not matter because if they believe that God is loving and accepting, then God does not discriminate based on gender. By saying that, I mean that God does not discriminate in the matter of marriage.” 
Mendonca is a Sunday school teacher and is also a part of the Parish Pastoral Council at the Divine Mercy Church in Bhayander East. She has also been a part of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) on a forum for gender identity, sexual orientation and sexual characteristics. She explains that the Church is made up of people, and since there are different languages, cultures, food and tastes that exist within the people, the Church must understand that there are different sexualities and feelings that exist within these boundaries. “Just by saying that you don’t agree to it, it is creating haters, because God himself hasn’t come down and said it. It is because of such discrimination that people leave the Church,” she adds.   

Jerry Johnson

Jerry Johnson, a city-based corporate communications professional, says the Catholic Church has been on the wrong side of ethical issues in human rights, and again now, is on the wrong side of love. “I think by not blessing same-sex marriages, the Church is advocating dishonest marriages, promoting dishonesty and the suppression of women trapped in unhappy marriages with gay men," he says. Johnson has co-authored a book, ‘I Am Divine. So Are You’, which deals with affirming the dignity of LGBTQIA+ lives within the frameworks of Indian religions. reached out to the archbishop of Mumbai, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, for his comments on the Vatican’s latest stand and the reactions from the LGBTQIA+ community in the city. This article will be updated with his statement if and when we receive his response. 
The Vatican’s note indicated that the decision was not intended to be a form of unjust discrimination against gay people. There has been an international debate about the acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community by the Church for decades. However, the debate took a positive turn after the election of Pope Francis in 2013, when he came out in support of the community. “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” Pope Francis had said, according to a BBC report
Meanwhile, in Japan, the Sapporo court on Wednesday said the failure of the government to recognise same-sex marriages is unconstitutional, according to a report in the Japan Times. It is a first and thus a landmark ruling in the country, where the Constitution defines marriage as being based on “the mutual consent of both sexes,” according to a Reuters report. However, the court refused to pay the petitioner couples 1 million yen, which they had asked for in acknowledgement of the pain they had suffered by not being able to legally marry.
As of January 2021, same-sex marriage is legally performed and recognised in at least 29 countries worldwide.

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