Anti-LGBTQ Criminalization & the Catholic Church: A Chronology

Despite clear indications that criminalizing a person because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression violates Church teaching, responses from Catholics to anti-LGBTQ human rights abuses have been a mixed bag of both support for and opposition to punitive laws. The Vatican made its opposition to anti-LGBTQ criminalization known as early as 2009. Yet, to this day, some bishops have voiced their support for discriminatory laws.

The following is a chronology of notable statements, publications, and actions related to anti-LGBTQ criminalization. If any important items are missing, please send the information to

For New Ways Ministry’s other resources on anti-LGBTQ criminalization as it relates to the Catholic Church, click here. For the latest news on this topic, click here.

Compiled by Robert Shine, Associate Director, New Ways Ministry

(Last updated: April 1, 2019)


January 2009: The Vatican calls for the decriminalization of homosexuality and condemns all forms of violence and “unjust discrimination,” including the death penalty and torture, against lesbian and gay people. Yet, the Holy See refuses to back a United Nations resolution towards that end because the resolution uses the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” which the Holy See perceives as problematic under international law.

December 2009: Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga of Kampala rejects attempts to pass an Anti-Homosexuality bill in Uganda, saying during a Christmas address that the legislation “does not pass a test of a Christian caring approach to this issue,” in part because it seeks the death penalty for lesbian and gay people.

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