"Theologisches" editor accused of discrimination

Text on homosexuals: Trial against theologian Hauke started

Bellinzona - Three years after the publication of a controversial text about homosexual priests in the magazine "Theologisches", editor Manfred Hauke is now standing trial in Switzerland. On Monday, the theology professor spoke at the trial.

Published  on 09.04.2024 at 12:49  – 

The trial of German theology professor Manfred Hauke began on Monday at the criminal court in Bellinzona, Switzerland. Hauke, who teaches at the Faculty of Theology in Lugano, is accused of publishing an article as editor of the magazine "Theologisches" in 2021 that allegedly violated the ban on discrimination and incited hatred against homosexuals. The trial had become necessary after Hauke appealed against a penalty order in this matter in December 2022, which included a conditional fine.

Homosexual clergy described as a "cancer" and "plague"

The article that triggered the trial was published as a sequel in the first two issues of "Theologisches" in 2021. Under the heading "On the need to limit homosexual cliques in the church", the author, Polish priest and journalist Dariusz Oko, had described homosexual clergy as "a colony of parasites", "cancerous tumours" and a "homosexual plague", among other things. Oko and the editor responsible for "Theologisches", professor emeritus of theology Johannes Stöhr, had to stand trial for the text in Cologne in 2022. Although the proceedings were dropped due to the accusation of incitement of the people, both priests had to pay fines of 3,150 euros and 4,000 euros.

In the course of the legal dispute, Hauke had defended Oko's text in an editorial in "Theologisches" and described homosexual priests themselves as "criminals". The Munich priest Wolfgang F. Rothe, who has been campaigning for the rights of homosexuals in the church for a long time, reported Hauke to the police, as he had previously done with Oko and Stöhr. At the end of 2021, however, the Cologne public prosecutor's office declined to investigate Hauke on suspicion of incitement to hatred, as there were no sufficient factual indications of a criminal offence after examining the factual and legal situation. Nevertheless, the prosecution considered Hauke's statements about homosexual priests to be "vehement vilification and an attack on individual personal rights".

Hauke pleads for cancellation of the penalty order

The trial against Hauke that has now begun in Switzerland is the result of a complaint filed by the Swiss civil rights and self-help organisation "Pink Cross". The organisation is convinced that Hauke, as publisher of "Theologisches", violated the anti-racism penal code by publishing Oko's article. The public prosecutor's office in Ticino finally agreed with this view last year.

According to a report in the "Neue Zürcher Zeitung", Hauke defended the publication of Oko's article in court on Monday by pointing out that it was clear from the masthead that the opinions expressed in the articles were not identical to the views of the editor-in-chief and the publisher. In addition, many quotes from Oko's text had been taken out of context. Hauke's defence lawyer had taken this argument further by explaining, among other things, that homosexual priests had not been discriminated against in general, but that the analysis in the article concerned certain groups and lobbies of clergymen who had virtually become a mafia organisation within the church and thus a danger. Hauke himself declared in his closing statement that he considered himself innocent and therefore pleaded for the judgement to be overturned. The judgement is expected next Monday, according to the report. (stz)