Gay couples can not claim a right to family or marriage as these are “based on fundamental laws of nature,” Colombia’s Catholic Church said Tuesday in a fierce attack on pending gay rights reforms.
In a press conference, cardinal Ruben Dario Salazar strongly opposed to reforms in legislation regarding gay rights imposed by Colombia’s constitutional Court that ordered Congress to come up with legislation defining the rights of the country’s LGBT community.
According to Salazar, public officials should be able to continue to exercise their right to morally object to performing their jobs when it comes to applying the law on gay people, as things like family and marriage are not a right, but a privilege. Consequently, the cardinal said, gay people are not subject to discrimination.
“The argument that always has been used is that of discrimination. But discrimination is when a person is denied access to a right they have. When there is no real right then there is no discrimination,” said the clergy.
“What is it that is being denied to the homosexual community? What is denied is something that doesn’t belong to them, something they have no right to, because marriage and family are based on fundamental laws of nature.”
Salazar called on Catholic public officials to continue to appeal to their conscientious objections if obligated by law to perform acts that go against their religious and moral convictions.
“Conscience may not be violated. Conscience is sacred and must be respected,” said the cardinal, adding that “the improper equalizing of homosexual unions to family doesn’t only contradict the will of the creator [god], but also — in the case of Colombia — the current will of the primary constituent established in Article 42 of the constitution.
Article 42. The family is the basic nucleus of society. It is formed on the basis of natural or legal ties, by the free decision of a man and woman to contract matrimony or by their responsible resolve to comply with it.
Colombia’s congress has until June 20 to come up with legislation that regulates the legal and civil rights of Colombia’s GLBT population. On that day, a two-year-old deadline imposed by the Constitutional Court passes.
In spite of the court ultimatum, Congress has tried but failed to pass legislation. After June 20, the state is obligated to allow gay couples exactly the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples.
According to Ana Botero, spokesperson of gay rights group Colombia Diversa, it is unclear what the consequence is if Congress fails to adapt legislation, something lawmakers already have expressed not to do before the deadline.