Wed | Feb 1, 2023

Pope says homosexuality not a crime

Published:Wednesday | January 25, 2023 | 1:39 PM
Pope Francis speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at the Vatican, Tuesday, January 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis criticised laws that criminalise homosexuality as “unjust,” saying God loves all his children just as they are and called on Catholic bishops who support the laws to welcome LGBTQ people into the church.

“Being homosexual isn't a crime,” Francis said during an exclusive interview Tuesday with The Associated Press.

Francis acknowledged that Catholic bishops in some parts of the world support laws that criminalise homosexuality or discriminate against LGBTQ people, and he himself referred to the issue in terms of “sin.”

But he attributed such attitudes to cultural backgrounds and said bishops in particular need to undergo a process of change to recognise the dignity of everyone.

“These bishops have to have a process of conversion,” he said, adding that they should apply “tenderness, please, as God has for each one of us.”

Francis' comments, which were hailed by gay rights advocates as a milestone, are the first uttered by a pope about such laws.

But they are also consistent with his overall approach to LGBTQ people and belief that the Catholic Church should welcome everyone and not discriminate.

Some 67 countries or jurisdictions worldwide criminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity, 11 of which can or do impose the death penalty, according to The Human Dignity Trust, which works to end such laws.

Experts say even where the laws are not enforced, they contribute to harassment, stigmatisation and violence against LGBTQ people.

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