Although much of the “culture of life” rhetoric focuses on the supposed evils associated with heterosexual relations (e.g., abortion and contraception), condemning LGBT rights is another important aspect of this ideology. As many readers probably know, the Catholic church teaches that homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered” and therefore not something that any well-ordered society should be promoting. Thus, preventing the spread of LGBT rights (i.e., the “homosexual agenda”) is another front in the battle over whether the future will be a “culture of life” or a “culture of death.”
Regarding homosexuality, The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.
The passage comes off to me as the church trying to have it both ways; condemning homosexuality as a sin, while simultaneously saying that discrimination or violence against those suffering from “same-sex attraction” is wrong. However, if you truly believe that homosexuality is on the same level as pedophilia or bestiality, then it makes perfect sense to wish harm on LGBT people, whether through harsh legal sanctions or physical violence, because they’re a threat to the moral community.
This is exactly what is going on in sub-Saharan Africa, where Christians (often aided and abetted by American religious conservatives) and Muslims are in a “race to the bottom” to see which community can be the toughest on homosexuality. Catholic leaders in sub-Saharan Africa have been explicit about supporting violence against LGBT people, such as when the Catholic bishops of Nigeria congratulated the president of their country for passing a law that imprisons LGBT people for marrying, gathering together in public, or establishing groups to agitate for their rights:
I get the feeling that when it comes to LGBT people, that the church is being quite two-faced; in the West, we hear platitudes about human dignity and the inherent value of those struggling with “same-sex attraction” while in the developing world, the church is free to deal with LGBT people as violently as it likes. To be fair, this isn’t limited to the Catholic church or even Christianity, but I don’t think any other religious body is delivering such a divergent message to different populations.
Here in the United States, forty percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT:
In most cases, these teens have been cast out of their homes by religious parents and end up on the street. I suppose that these parents think that they are administering a form of “tough love,” cutting off their LGBT child to straighten them out (no pun intended) in the same way they would a child addicted to drugs or alcohol. As the above article notes, the faith-based organizations (many of which receive federal funds) that often serve the homeless are often hostile places for LGBT people, both in terms of physical well-being and psychological health. As with the problems faced by women who don’t have control of their own fertility, the issue of homeless LGBT youth is simply not on the Catholic church’s moral radar.
I don’t see how denying LGBT basic human rights and consigning LGBT youth to the streets can really be considered part and parcel of a “culture of life.” I suppose that some conservotrad Catholics would argue that LGBT people are perfectly welcome in a “culture of life” so long as they remain celibate, but there’s not really a place even for celibate LGBT people in the Catholic church, especially since gay priests have become the institutional scapegoat for the clergy sex abuse crisis. I can’t imagine a conservative parish like St F allowing an open but celibate LGBT person (especially a man) to be in a position of authority.
The opposition to homosexuality in the Catholic church stems from largely from natural law arguments that have no basis in empirical reality, as well as the usual “clobber texts” from the Bible. If you don’t accept natural law or the Bible as legitimate sources for building an ethical system, then there’s really no reason to be against gay rights or to refer to homosexuality as “unnatural.” LGBT rights, as well as feminism, call into question the rigid gender roles that have become the backbone of “culture of life” and other “family values” ideologies. But I don’t think that any system that encourages legal or physical violence against a minority population can legitimately call itself a “culture of life.”