LGBT rights in Vatican City

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

in Europe  (dark grey)  –  [Legend]

Same-sex sexual intercourse legal status Legal
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. From 1929 to 2008, the Vatican City automatically adopted most Italian laws; however, it was announced in late 2008 that the Vatican would no longer automatically adopt new Italian laws as its own.[1]

Criminal law[edit]

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

The 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church which represents the present Catholic Doctrine says that homosexuals may not be unjustly discriminated against.[3] On December 18, 2008, the Holy See endorsed the decriminalization of same-sex sexual activity, despite expressing opposition to the wording of the "Declaration on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity" presented at the UN General Assembly that same day.[4][5]

Civil rights[edit]

Vatican City State does not have any civil rights provisions that include sexual orientation or gender identity. However, the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that while homosexual acts are gravely disordered, there may be no unjust discrimination against homosexuals.[3]

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."[6]

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”."[7]


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.[8]

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 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]