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Vatican urges Italy to stop proposed anti-homophobia law

People gather in Milan to support the so-called Zan Law, named after the Democratic Party lawmaker and gay rights activist Alessandro Zan. Photograph: Luca Bruno/AP

The Vatican has made an unprecedented intervention urging the Italian government to change a proposed law that would criminalise homophobia over concerns it will infringe upon the Catholic church’s “freedom of thought”.

A letter delivered by the British archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s secretary of relations with states, said parts of the legislation violated a treaty made between Italy and the Catholic church in the 1920s that secured the freedoms and rights of the church, Corriere della Sera reported.

The move was confirmed on Tuesday by a Vatican spokesperson. “A note verbale from the secretary of state was informally delivered to Italy’s embassy to the Holy See on 17 June,” the spokesperson said, without revealing the contents of the letter.

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