ROME — Christian homosexuals wrote an open letter to Pope Benedict XVI on Friday ahead of Rome's EuroPride festival, asking the Vatican to defend people who are persecuted for their sexual orientation.
"We ask Your Holiness to condemn violence against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals and to ensure that criminal punishment for sexual relations between people of the same sex are lifted around the world," the letter said.
EuroPride is set to bring hundreds of thousands of people into the streets of Rome on Saturday, with its message of defiance to the Italian government and the Vatican amplified by the presence of world-famous singer Lady Gaga.
The Vatican's silence on the issue "could be interpreted as approval of the violence," the European Forum for Christian Homosexuals added in the letter.
The forum gave as an example the slaying in January of David Kato, a gay activist in mainly Christian Uganda where homosexuality is punished.
"In numerous regions of the world, the authors of violence are often persuaded that they act according to the will of the Church," it said.
The forum is an organisation bringing together 45 associations of Christian homosexuals in 23 European countries. The initiative to write to the pope came from the Polish group Wiary i tecza (Faith and Rainbow).
The Vatican condemns homosexuality as a "disordered" act and a sin. It defends traditional family values and rejects any type of legislation giving gays more rights such as marital unions and adoption.
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