The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby is shocked and extremely disappointed by statements made by the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, linking incidents of pedophilia perpetrated by priests to homosexuality.
On April 12, Bertone told a news conference in Santiago, Chile, “Many psychologists and psychiatrists have shown that there is no link between celibacy and pedophilia but many others have shown … that there is a relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia”.
These statements are not only offensive but they are also not endorsed by credible psychological research. Moreover, these claims disregard sexual assaults perpetrated by male priests against young girls.
The recent statements made by some in the Vatican only serve to distract us from the fact that these men, well respected within their communities and in positions of power, took advantage of the most vulnerable members of our community — children — in the most horrific way. Whether these men identify as gay or straight is not relevant.
Statements like these, made by some of the world’s most prominent religious leaders, are particularly concerning in a country that gives religious organisations exemptions from anti-discrimination legislation.
While the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act makes it unlawful for anyone to discriminate against a person, or a relative or associate of that person, on the basis of their actual or presumed homosexual or transgender status in employment, accommodation, education, clubs and the provision of goods and services, religious bodies are exempt from the Act.
Any body established to propagate religion that conforms to the doctrines of that religion can discriminate against people on the basis they are homosexual or transgender when they believe it is necessary to avoid injury to the religious susceptibilities of the adherents of that religion.
There is no federal legislation that protects individuals from unfair discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. If our federal and state governments are dedicated to promoting the rights of all citizens, they must ensure the adequate protection of sexual and gender minorities.

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