State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith was warned at the Vatican for holding hands with his husband


Jerick Mediavilla and Carlos Guillermo Smith - PHOTO VIA CARLOS GUILLERMO SMITH/FACEBOOK
  • Photo via Carlos Guillermo Smith/Facebook
  • Jerick Mediavilla and Carlos Guillermo Smith
While walking the resplendently hallowed grounds of Saint Peter's Square, Orlando state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith says he was stopped by Vatican officials for holding hands with his husband, Jerick Mediavilla.

The two were pulled aside, according to a Facebook post by Smith, and warned that their hand-holding could be punished with a fine "or worse."

"It's no secret the Catholic Church has consistently opposed the rights of LGBTQ people, imposed conversion therapy on vulnerable youth and done substantial harm trying to keep us in the shadows," said the House District 49 rep, adding he was "shocked but not surprised."

Established in 1929, the Vatican is its own city-state independent of surrounding Italy. Homosexuality is not illegal, technically, but the city-state still primarily follows the same penal code in place during the 1929 split, which banned homosexuality. That same old code sets the legal age of sexual consent at 12.

Smith, who won and has held HD49 with an aggressively progressive agenda, said the incident was a stark reminder of how much work is left.

"There are places in the world where LGBTQ people are punished simply for existing. Even in the U.S., life can be dangerous, esp. for black trans women who face increasing hate violence and whose average life expectancy is 30-35 in the Americas," said Smith on Facebook. He noted that both he and his husband were raised Catholic, raised in a religion that taught them to see themselves as shameful blemishes of creation.

"We are NOT ashamed – we are PROUD," wrote Smith.
Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.