ROME, IT — (01-25-23) — Pope Francis calls for an end to all anti-LGBTQ laws and now says that he welcomes the LGBTQ community into the Catholic Church. Pope Francis has criticized laws that criminalize homosexuality as “unjust”, saying “God loves all his children just as they are”, and calling on Catholic bishops worldwide who support the laws to welcome the LGBTQ+ community into the church.

“Being homosexual isn’t a crime,” said Francis said on Tuesday in an interview with the AP.

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

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

In fact there are still 67 countries or jurisdictions worldwide that continue to 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.

Here in the USA we still have over a dozen states that still have anti-sodomy laws on their books, despite a 2003 supreme court ruling declaring them unconstitutional.

The UN has repeatedly called for an end to laws criminalizing homosexuality, saying they violate rights to privacy and freedom from discrimination and are a breach of countries’ obligations under international law to protect the human rights of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Declaring such laws “unjust”, Francis is telling the bishops of the Catholic church that they should work to put an end to such laws. “It must do this. It must do this,” said Francis.

Francis quoted the Catholic catechism in saying “gay people must be welcomed and respected, and should not be marginalized or discriminated against.”

“We are all children of God, and God loves us as we are and for the strength that each of us fights for our dignity,” said Francis.

“His historic statement should send a message to world leaders and millions of Catholics around the world,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the US-based advocacy group Glaad. “LGBTQ people deserve to live in a world without violence and condemnation, and more kindness and understanding.” said Ellis.

Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer

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