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Pope Francis: homosexuality is not a crime

VATICAN (AP) — Pope Francis has criticized laws criminalizing homosexuality as “unfair,” saying God loves all of his children for who they are and called on Catholic bishops who support the laws to welcome LGBTQ people to church.

“Being gay is not a crime,” Francis said Tuesday during an interview with The Associated Press.

Francis acknowledged that Catholic bishops in some parts of the world support laws that criminalize homosexuality or discriminate against the LGBTQ community, and he himself termed the issue a “sin.” But he attributed this attitude to cultural background and said that bishops, in particular, need to go through a process of change to recognize the dignity of everyone.

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

About 67 countries or jurisdictions around the world criminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity, 11 of which can or already have the death penalty, according to the Human Dignity Trust, which is working to repeal such laws. Experts say that even where laws are not enforced, they contribute to harassment, stigmatization and violence against LGBTQ people.

In the US, more than a dozen states still have anti-sodomy laws, despite a 2003 Supreme Court ruling that declared them unconstitutional. Gay rights advocates say outdated laws are being used to harass homosexuals, pointing to newer laws such as Florida’s “Don’t Call Yourself Gay” law, which bans teaching sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, as evidence. ongoing efforts to marginalize LGBTQ people.

The United Nations has repeatedly called for the repeal of laws that explicitly criminalize homosexuality, saying they violate rights to privacy and freedom from discrimination and violate 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 said the Catholic Church could and should work to end them. “He has to do it. He has to do it,” he said.

Francis cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states that gays should be welcomed and respected and should not be marginalized or discriminated against.

“We are all children of God and God loves us for who we are and for the strength with which each of us fights for our dignity,” Francis told the AP at the Vatican hotel where he lives.

Such laws are common in Africa and the Middle East and date back to British colonial times or are based on Islamic law. Some Catholic bishops have strongly supported them as being in line with Vatican teachings that regard homosexual activity as “intrinsically abnormal”, while others have called for their abolition as a violation of basic human dignity.

In 2019, Francis was expected to make a statement against the criminalization of homosexuality during a meeting with advocacy groups that were conducting research on the effects of such laws and so-called “conversion therapies”.

In the end, the Pope did not meet with the groups, who instead met with Vatican No. 2, which affirmed “the dignity of every human being and against every form of violence.”

Francis said on Tuesday that a distinction must be made between crime and sin in relation to homosexuality.

“Being homosexual is not a crime,” he said. “It’s not a crime. Yes, but it’s a sin. Okay, but first let’s distinguish between sin and crime.

“It is also a sin not to show mercy to each other,” he added.

Catholic teaching maintains that while gay people are to be treated with respect, homosexual acts are “intrinsically promiscuous”. Francis did not change this teaching, but made appealing to the LGBT community a hallmark of his papacy.

Starting with his famous 2013 declaration “Who am I to judge?” When asked about a priest who was allegedly gay, Francis repeatedly and publicly ministered to the gay and trans community. As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he advocated providing legal protection for same-sex couples as an alternative to approving same-sex marriage, which Catholic doctrine forbids.

Despite this outreach, Francis has come under fire from the Catholic LGBTQ community for a 2021 decree from the Vatican’s doctrinal office that the church cannot bless same-sex unions “because God cannot bless sin.”

In 2008, the Vatican refused to sign a UN declaration calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality, complaining that the text went beyond its original scope and also contained language about “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” that it considered problematic. In a statement at the time, the Vatican urged countries to avoid “unfair discrimination” against gays and lift sanctions against them.

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