A Swiss gay rights group is appealing a court’s decision to close complaints against Vitus Huonder, the Catholic bishop of Chur, for “homophobic comments” made in a recent speech in which he quoted bible verses calling for gays to be put to death.
In a statement released on Monday, Pink Cross, the umbrella association for Swiss gay groups, confirmed that it had appealed to the Graubünden cantonal court against a decision on October 9 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.
The gay rights association and two individuals had filed official complaints to the Graubünden prosecutor in eastern Switzerland on August 10, accusing the 73-year-old 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.
Some members of the Catholic Church have distanced themselves from Huonder, with Markus Büchel, the bishop of St Gallen, saying people should not be reduced to their sexuality.
Reacting to the controversy, the Swiss Bishops’ Conference released a statement in early September saying, “The Church is open to all”.
swissinfo.ch and agencies