LGBT rights in Vatican City

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LGBT rights in Vatican City
Location Vatican City Europe.png
Location of Vatican City (green)

in Europe (dark grey)  –  [Legend]

StatusLegal since 1890
Gender identityNo
MilitaryNo army
Discrimination protectionsNone
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsNo

The legal code regarding LGBT rights in Vatican City is based on the Italian Zanardelli Code of 1889 (effective 1890), which was applicable in 1929, the time of the founding of the sovereign state of the Vatican City. From 1929 to 2008, the Vatican City automatically adopted most Italian laws; however, it was announced in late 2008 that Vatican City would no longer automatically adopt new Italian laws as its own.[1]

Criminal law[edit]

A 2008 protest against the Vatican and the laws against homosexuals that were in force in the Catholic Church

There are no criminal laws against non-commercial, private, adult and consensual same-sex sexual activity.[2] Since 2013, the age of consent is 18 years old, except for sex within marriage, in which case it is 14 years old.[3]

Foreign diplomats, in order to be accredited, must not be part of a same-sex family,[4] and must not be divorced.[5] In 2008, Jean-Loup Kuhn-Delforge, who is an openly gay diplomat, and who is in a civil pact with his partner, was rejected by Roman Catholic officials to be the French ambassador to the Holy See. In 2015, Laurent Stefanini, an openly gay practising Catholic diplomat was rejected by Roman Catholic officials to be the French ambassador to the Holy See although he was single, and was backed by President Francois Hollande and was supported by France's top Curia cardinal, Jean-Louis Tauran, who was the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, and Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris. Despite French refusal to back down from his nomination, and a stand-off with the Vatican that resulted in the position being vacant from March 2015 to May 2016, France nominated another diplomat in May 2016.[6][7]

Civil rights[edit]

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

On 13 January 1998, the LGBT activist of Arcigay Alfredo Ormando set himself on fire in St. Peter's Square (which is under the jurisdiction of the Vatican City) in protest against the attitude of deep-rooted refusal that has always been expressed by the Catholic religion towards homosexuality. As a result of the severe burns suffered, he died a few days later in the hospital.[citation needed]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

The Vatican City has always expressed its sharpest disagreement against any civil recognition of same-sex unions and same-sex marriage and against the granting of adoption rights to same-sex couples.[8]

Discrimination protections[edit]

Krzysztof Charamsa

The Vatican reserves the inalienable right to remove, suspend and dismiss immediately any official and employee who publicly admits to being gay or who even questions the general policy of the Vatican towards homosexuals.[9][10]

Krzysztof Charamsa[edit]

In October 2015, the coming-out of theologian Father Krzysztof Charamsa ended with his suspension from his priestly duties, teaching positions and posts in the Roman Curia. On the eve of the second session of the Bishop's Synod on the Family, Charamsa was quoted as saying in the Corriere Della Sera, "I want the Church and my community to know who I am: a gay priest who is happy, and proud of his identity. I’m prepared to pay the consequences, but it’s time the Church opened its eyes, and realised that offering gay believers total abstinence from a life of love is inhuman."[11]

Gender identity and expression[edit]

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:[12]

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.

In the 2016 document "Amoris Laetitia", written by Pope Francis after a Synod involving a great part of the Catholic bishops from the whole world, he writes that: "It needs to be emphasized that 'biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated'."[13]


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.[14]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 1890, as part of Italy)
Equal age of consent Yes/No (18 years for all, 14 years for married, thus opposite-sex couples)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only No (The Holy See reserves the inalienable right to remove, suspend and dismiss immediately any employee declaring himself homosexual or against the position of the Catholic Church on homosexuality)
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 Gendarmerie and Pontifical Swiss Guard No
Right to change legal gender No
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
Allowed to donate blood No

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vatican ends automatic adoption of Italian law. Reuters. Retrieved on 26 October 2010.
  2. ^ Gay Star News: Vatican City raises age of consent from 12 to 18 following scandals.
  3. ^ "Legge N. VIII: Norme complementari in materia penale, 11 July 2013 (see Article 8(4) and Article 4(a) - for sex within marriage see Article 8(5))" (PDF). Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  4. ^ Vatican blocks appointment of gay diplomat Archived 12 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine, 2. October 2008
  5. ^ Wikinews: Vatican accepts Juan Pablo Cafiero as Argentine Ambassador, 28. September 2008
  6. ^, The Tablet-w. "Hollande stands by his Vatican ambassador". The Tablet.
  7. ^, The Tablet-w. "France ends 15-month stand-off by naming new ambassador to Vatican". The Tablet.
  8. ^ Texte sur le site du Vatican.
  9. ^ Texte de la lettre sur le site d'Eternal World Television, Global Catholic Network (en anglais).
  10. ^ Golias Magazine, "Stupeur au Vatican, un théologien fait son coming out, il est viré" Archived 17 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Têtu, 7/08/2010.
  11. ^ "Vatican Theologian Confesses: "I'm Happy to Be Gayand I Have a Partner" Video". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). 3 October 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  12. ^ [1], Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part One, Section Two, Chapter One, Article One, Paragraph Six, #369.
  13. ^ [2] Amoris Laetitia, par 56
  14. ^ Condoms and the Vatican | FP Passport. (21 November 2006). Retrieved on 26 October 2010.