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Pope Francis insists ‘homosexuality is a sin but not a crime’

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Pope Francis addressing a crowd with the word of God

Pope Francis has slammed laws which criminalise homosexuality, saying “God loves us as we are”. 

In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday (January 24), the Pontiff said: “Being homosexual isn’t a crime.”

During the interview, Francis acknowledged that Catholic bishops in some parts of the world support laws that criminalise homosexuality and/or being LGBTQ+.

However, the Pope said he saw such attitudes as down to the “cultural backgrounds’ of the bishops and said there needs to be a process of change in order for these figures to recognise LGBTQ+ people as valid and deserving of respect. 

Currently, 67 countries criminalise private, consensual, same-sex sexual activity. The majority of these jurisdictions explicitly criminalise sex between men via ‘sodomy’, ‘buggery’ and ‘unnatural offences’ laws. 

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Of these countries, 11 impose the death penalty or pose it as a possibility for private, consensual same-sex sexual activity. At least six of these implement the death penalty – Iran, Northern Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen – and the death penalty is a legal possibility in Afghanistan, Brunei, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

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

Pope Francis has a colourful history on LGBTQ+ rights

“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,” 

“Being homosexual is not a crime.”

“It’s not a crime. Yes, but it’s a sin. Fine, but first let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime.”

“It’s also a sin to lack charity with one another,” he explained. 

The Catholic faith still teaches that being LGBTQ+ is unnatural and “disordered”. However, Pope Francis has made reaching out to the LGBTQ+ community a key tenet of his papacy. 

PinkNews has previously reported the Pope’s chequered, although landmark, relationship with the LGBTQ+ community. 

In 2013, he famously said: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”

In 2020, he urged parents of LGBT+ children to love them as they are “because they are children of God” in a groundbreaking meeting.

While a year later in September 2021, he reportedly encouraged an LGBTQ+ Catholic group to build a church “that excludes no one”.

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