The Roman Catholic Church’s representative at the United Nations has explained why it opposed a statement on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people read out at the General Assembly last week.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore said the Vatican opposed the use of the phrases “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” in the statement as they have no definition in international law and are cultural concepts.

“The Holy See appreciates the attempts made to condemn all forms of violence against homosexual persons as well as urge states to take necessary measures to put an end to all criminal penalties against them,” he said.

The Chuch claims that the statement, which was supported by 66 countries, including all 27 EU member states, “goes beyond this goal and instead gives rise to uncertainty in the law and challenges existing human rights norms.”

Despite the fact the statement is not legally binding, the Vatican claims it “would create serious uncertainty in the law as well as undermine the ability of states to enter into and enforce new and existing human-rights conventions and standards.”

South Africa and the United States of America did not support the initiative.

It does not create new rights but instead builds on similar past initiatives.

It affirms the principle of universality: that all human beings, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity, are entitled to equal dignity and respect.

A cross-regional group of states coordinated the drafting, including Brazil, Croatia, France, Gabon, Japan, the Netherlands, and Norway.

The statement condemned killings, torture, arbitrary arrest, and “deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to health.”

The participating countries urged all nations to “promote and protect human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity,” and to end all criminal penalties against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.