LGBT rights in Vatican City

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LGBT rights in Vatican City
Location of  LGBT rights in Vatican City  (green)in Europe  (dark grey)  –  [Legend]
Location of  LGBT rights in Vatican City  (green)

in Europe  (dark grey)  –  [Legend]

Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal
Gender identity/expression (see below)
Discrimination protections None
Family rights
Recognition of

The legal code regarding homosexuality in the Vatican City is based on the Italian penal code of 1929, the time of the founding of the sovereign state of the Vatican City. However, it was announced in late 2008 that the Vatican "will no longer automatically adopt new Italian laws as its own", as a top Vatican official said, citing the vast number of laws Italy churns out, many of which are at odds with Catholic doctrine".[1]

Criminal law[edit]

There are no criminal laws against non-commercial, private, adult and consensual same-sex sexual activity.

The Vatican has not made its own completely separate criminal code. Instead, in matters of criminal law, as per Article 3 of the "Law of the Source of Law" (Act Nr. II of the six fundamental laws adopted upon ratification of the Lateran Treaty in 1929) the Vatican State has used the criminal law of Italy (Codice Penale, CP) of 1889 in the version of 1929-06-08.[2] With an Act of 1969-06-21 the version of the Italian law used was changed to that of 1924-12-31,[3] primarily because of the death penalty being reintroduced in 1926 to Italy. In 1930 the Italian law changed, which had no effect in the Vatican State. With the "Act on Sources of Law" from 2008-10-01 (in force since 2009-01-01) Article 7, the use of the Italian criminal law, as it was introduced with Act Nr. II, Art. 3, of 1929-06-07 and with all changes from the Vatican State until now, was re-enacted (until further changes), as long as they did not conflict with ecclesiastical law or laws specifically promulgated by the Pope for the Vatican (Art. 3).[4][5] In 2013, the age of consent for sexual activity was raised from 12 to 18.[6]

In 1957 the Catholic Church formally endorsed the recommendations of the British Wolfden Report. The report had been commissioned by the British government to review the criminal laws against homosexuality. While emphasizing that it believes that homosexuality is a sin, the Vatican supported the decriminalisation of homosexual acts between consenting adults in private.

Civil rights[edit]

Vatican City State does not have any civil rights provisions that include sexual orientation or gender identity.

Transgender issues[edit]

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their respective beings as man and woman. "Being man" or "being woman" is a reality which is good and willed by God: man and woman possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator. Man and woman are both with one and the same dignity "in the image of God". In their "being-man" and "being-woman", they reflect the Creator's wisdom and goodness."[7]

In 2000, the Holy See took the official position that transsexual people remain the same sex they were born with, and transsexualism is a mental disorder. However, the Vatican stated that "[a transgender] procedure could be morally acceptable in certain extreme cases if a medical probability exists that it will "cure" the patient's internal turmoil."[8]


There are no known cases of AIDS or HIV infection in Vatican City. Internationally, the Vatican government has been a leading opponent of the use of condoms as part of any campaign to stop the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.[9] In 2006, the Holy See said it was conducting a scientific and moral study on the use of condoms in the fight against the pandemic.[10]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 1890)
Equal age of consent Yes (Since 1890)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only No
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
Same-sex marriage No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military Has no military
Right to change legal gender No
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vatican ends automatic adoption of Italian law. Reuters. Retrieved on 26 October 2010.
  2. ^ Art. 4 [old version] Art. 3 Legge sulle fonti del diritto, N.II., 7. Juni 1929
  3. ^ Art. 39 Legge che modifica la legislazione penis e la legislazione processuale penale, N.L, 21. Juni 1969; which changed Art. 4 of Legge sulle fonti del diritto 1929.
  4. ^ Nr. LXXI Legge sulle fonti del diritto, Art 7, from 2008-10-01 (Online in Italian, Online in German as "Gesetz über Rechtsquellen")
  5. ^ The automatic enforcement of Italian laws before Nr. LXXI, which goes through the press ("Vatican ends automatic adoption of Italian law". Reuters. 31 December 2008. ), could not be accepted for the criminal law. It is possible for the civil law, where the civil law of Italy of 1942-03-16 is now used in the version of 2008-12-31 / 2009-01-01.
  6. ^ Vatican City raises age of consent from 12 to 18 following scandals
  7. ^ [1], Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part One, Section Two, Chapter One, Article One, Paragraph Six, #369.
  8. ^ Catholic News Service, Vatican says 'sex-change' operation does not change person's gender
  9. ^ Condoms and the Vatican | FP Passport. (21 November 2006). Retrieved on 26 October 2010.
  10. ^ Vatican Studying Condoms and AIDS. (25 April 2006). Retrieved on 26 October 2010.