Bishop in Court for Criticing Homosexual Behaviour

Country: Belgium

Date of incident: April 15, 2007

In April 2007 André-Mutien Léonard, then the Roman Catholic bishop of Namur gave an interview in the weekly magazine Télé Moustique, where he was asked his opinion on homosexuality. In his answer he referred to Sigmund Freud and deduced that homosexuality was essentially psychological in nature. The court cleared the bishop - but the fact that he went through trial is of great concern.

Bishop Léonard was strongly criticized when many interpreted his comments to mean that homosexuals were 'abnormal' as persons, and he was quick to clarify that it is their behaviour that is abnormal, not their very person. Despite the clarification, Léonard was charged under Belgium’s 2003 Anti-Discrimination Act for “stigmatizing” homosexuals. The Court decided at the end that although the words were offending against the homosexual community, they couldn’t withstand the accusation of slander nor did they contribute to hatred or discrimination, as required by the law.  As reports this is not the first case of untenable allegation in Belgium happening to the clergy. In 2004, similar accusations were made against the late 80-yaear-old Cardinal Gustaaf Joos of Brussels. He was threatened to face a trial by the Center for Equal Opportunities and Struggle against Racism. Source: A related incident took place in 2010: