Pope Francis and protestant leaders from England and Scotland denounced the criminalization of homosexuality on Sunday, calling laws that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people both a “sin” and an “injustice.”
“This is not right,” Pope Francis said while addressing reporters after a trip to South Sudan. He traveled with the Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Dr. Iain Greenshields.
“People with homosexual tendencies are children of God,” he added. “God loves them, God is with them.”
The Pope suggested that “about 50 countries” criminalize homosexuality “in one way or another,” and that 10 implement the death penalty for LGBTQ+ people.
According to Human Rights Watch, 67 countries have laws that criminalize same-sex relations between consenting adults, and at least nine countries have criminalizing laws that target transgender and gender nonconforming people.
Eleven countries still impose the death penalty for LGBTQ+ people, according to the U.K.-based human-rights organization, Human Dignity Trust.
“The criminalization of homosexuality is a problem that cannot be ignored,” said Pope Francis.
In January, the Pope said in an interview with The Associated Press that while homosexuality itself “is not a crime,” same-sex sexual relations are a “sin.” The Pope also made a point of saying that parents of LGBTQ+ children should not “condemn” them.
Last month, the Church of England outlined proposals that would refuse same-sex marriages in its churches, saying that it would continue to teach that marriage is between “one man and one woman for life.” The decision came after five years of debate.
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