Pope Francis has declared that laws criminalizing LGBT individuals are a sin and an injustice, stating that “God loves and accompanies people with same-sex attraction.” Speaking on board the papal plane during a two-country trip to Africa, the Pope received the full support of two other Christian leaders, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland Iain Greenshields.
According to data from ILGA World – the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association – 66 United Nations member states continue to criminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations. Punishments in these countries can range from fines to death sentences. Pope Francis stated, “This is not right. Persons with homosexual tendencies are children of God. God loves them. God accompanies them…condemning a person like this is a sin. Criminalizing people with homosexual tendencies is an injustice.”
The Catholic Church’s catechism teaches that same-sex attraction is not a sin but homosexual acts are. It also emphasizes that LGBT people should not be marginalized. Pope Francis has previously noted that the Church cannot permit sacramental marriage of same-sex couples, but supports so-called civil union legislation giving same-sex couples legal protection.