Monday, May 13, 2013

What IS It with Conservative Bishops and Anti-Violence Measures?

I've noticed a pattern among conservative Catholic bishops in the west. When legislation or a human rights convention related to violence against women is up for consideration, some conservative bishops will loudly oppose it on the grounds that it will undermine stereotypical gender roles and support LGBTQ persons.

Lithuania, which is deliberating on whether or not to sign a human rights document on violence against women, is one example. According to Catholic World News, Lithuania's Catholic bishops have discouraged the Lithuanian government from becoming a signatory to the Council of Europe's Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women.

According to a May 9th statement from the Lithuanian Bishops Conference (Lietuvos Vyskupu Konferencija), the convention frames gender as a "social construct", which allegedly ignores human biology. The bishops argue that the conventions definition of gender identity is so broad that it could have problematic ramifications for Lithuanian law.
"Konvencija Lietuvos teisėje įtvirtintų naujus draudimo diskriminuoti dėl „socialinės lyties“ ir „socialinės lyties tapatybės“ (Konvencijos 4 straipsnis) pagrindus, kurie gali būti interpretuojami plačiai ir nevienareikšmiškai. Nebuvo paaiškinta, kaip šios nuostatos būtų taikomos praktikoje ir kokias naujas pareigas bei problemas sukurtų valstybės institucijoms, švietimo įstaigoms, verslui ir visai visuomenei."

("Enshrined in the Convention is the prohibition of discrimination due to the new "social sex" and "gender identity" (article 4 of the Convention), which can be interpreted in a broad manner. It did not explain how these provisions are to be applied in practice and what new duties and challenges they will create for public institutions, educational institutions, businesses, and society as a whole.")
The bishops' statement lambastes the Convention's calls for social change to eliminate customs and practices rooted in misogyny, claiming that Lithuania's cultural and religious traditions would be deemed threats to women. The statement warns that schools could be obliged to teach "homosexuality and transgenderism" if Lithuania becomes a signatory. The bishops discourage the Lithuanian government from signing the convention because the documents goals are allegedly "contrary to the nation's identity."
"Ypatingą susirūpinimą kelia Konvencijos 14 straipsnio nuostatos ją pasirašiusioms šalims uždedančios pareigą įtraukti į visų formaliojo švietimo lygių ugdymo programas mokymo medžiagą apie „nestereotipinius lyčių vaidmenis“, nes pastarieji, be kita ko, gali reikšti ir homoseksualumą bei transseksualumą ... tiek daugelio tėvų moralinėms vertybėms, diegimu sukuria precedentą, keliantį pagrįstą nerimą."

("Of particular concern is the provisions of Article 14 of the Convention, which places an unfair obligation on signatory countries to include in all levels of formal education curricula teaching material for non-stereotyped gender roles; because this, among other things, can also mean homosexuality and transgenderism ...For many parents' moral values, the installation creates a precedent, causing reasonable concern.")
Sadly, this is nothing new. In 2012, after opposition from Poland's Catholic leaders, the Polish government initially refused to sign the Council of Europe's Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women, according to Polskie Radio/Dla Zagranicy. However, Poland eventually signed the document in December 2012, according to the Warsaw Voice. Poland's Catholic bishops were outraged, insisting that the document would force the Polish government to “promote non-stereotypical gender roles such as homosexuality and transsexualism.”

Even in the U.S., conservative bishops have resisted anti-violence measures on the grounds that they would promote LGBTQ rights. In March 2013, when President Obama signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into law, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops criticized VAWA for its pro-LGBTQ content.

Such conservative bishops have shown how skewed their priorities are. The Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women could be an important tool for addressing gender-based violence, but some bishops have let their homophobia, transphobia, and sexism blind them to its merits. If preserving antiquated notions of gender and keeping LGBTQ persons invisible is more important to bishops than ending gender-based violence, something is very wrong.

(Hat tip to Pink News)


  1. The catholic church is a boys club (not gentlemen, and not man) that is so stuck in the past with their holy bible that nothing good has ever come out of it. I think if they could have their way we would still be burning "witches".

    Unfortunately its not only Churches that are involved in things like this. For example Korea (where I live) is a shameless sexist nation.

    1. Christian -- Stuck in the past is right. They can't grasp that the world is evolving and that millions of people are abandoning homophobia and sexism.

  2. Once again, they're on the wrong side of an issue.

    1. Donna -- They seem to be on the wrong side of too many issues, sadly.


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