Sat | Dec 5, 2020

Pope’s civil union words spark reactions around globe

Published:Friday | October 23, 2020 | 12:14 AM
Pope Francis
Pope Francis


Across the globe, Pope Francis’ comments endorsing same-sex civil unions were received by some as encouragement for an advancing struggle and condemned by others as an earth-shaking departure from church doctrine.

In the Philippines, officials saw the potential for political change in the wake of the Pope’s words. In Zimbabwe, activists for equal rights applauded the move but doubted it would quickly bring change in a country where discrimination against the LGBT community continues to be widespread.

Nowhere was reaction more divided than in Latin America, where the Roman Catholic Church remains influential — and where some countries have legalised same-sex marriage in recent years over objections of the Church.

Earlier this year, Costa Rica became the sixth country in Latin America to allow same-sex marriage. Ecuador legalised it last year, and Panama is in the midst of a heated debate on the subject now. It is also permitted in some parts of Mexico, as well as Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Uruguay.

The latest push has been propelled in part by an opinion issued in January 2018 by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. It said the 25 countries that signed the American Convention on Human Rights had to guarantee that all rights available to heterosexual couples were also extended to homosexual couples.

The Catholic Church, however, has fought against these changes. When Francis was serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, he endorsed civil unions for gay couples as an alternative to same-sex marriages.