Court drops case against bishop who denounced gays

20th May 2016, Comments 0 comments

The Graubünden cantonal court has dismissed an appeal by gay rights association Pink Cross regarding the closure of its case against Chur’s catholic bishop Vitus Huonder for “homophobic comments” made in a speech.

Pink Cross, the umbrella association for Swiss gay groups, announced on Friday that the cantonal court’s appeals body decided there was insufficient evidence to take up criminal proceedings against the 74-year-old bishop. The gay rights group will also have to pay costs and compensation amounting to CHF1,500 ($1,514).

"The situation is unsatisfactory and demonstrates the absolute necessity of making displays of hatred toward gays, lesbians and transgender people a punishable offence," said Bastian Baumann, director of Pink Cross.

Pink Cross and two individuals had filed official complaints to the Graubünden prosecutor in eastern Switzerland in August 2015, accusing the Swiss bishop of “inciting people to crime or violence” with his remarks made at a religious forum in Germany on August 2.

In his 50-minute address on marriage, the bishop quoted two verses from the book of Leviticus, including Leviticus 20:13: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” In response to applause, he continued: “Both of these passages alone suffice to clarify unambiguously the Church’s position on homosexuality”.

Following a public outcry, Huonder released a statement in which he regretted that his comments had been misunderstood and interpreted as contemptuous towards homosexuals. “That wasn’t my intention,” he said.

In October 2015, the cantonal court decided to close the three complaints filed against Huonder. The cantonal prosecutor said that the necessary conditions had not been met for the cases to go before a court or for a possible sentence.

Pink Cross appealed this decision which was dismissed by the court on Friday. The group announced that it will not take the case to the Federal Court, due to lack of adequate legislation.


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