TIMELINE-10 years of Pope Francis and LGBTQ+ issues

Monday, 13 March 2023 13:15 GMT

Pope Francis addresses the media while aboard the plane from Juba to Rome, returning from his visit to Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, February 5, 2023. Vatican Media/­Handout via REUTERS

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Francis has said LGBTQ+ people should be loved and protected in laws

By Hugo Greenhalgh

March 13 (Openly) - The Pope marked 10 years as head of the Roman Catholic Church on Monday in a reign that has seen him increasingly speak out to urge acceptance of LGBTQ+ people.

In February, Argentina-born Pope Francis, 86, described laws criminalising LGBTQ+ people as a sin and an injustice "that cannot be ignored".

The Church teaches that while being gay is not sinful, the practice of gay sex is. Pope Francis has said the Church cannot accept same-sex marriage, but can support civil unions aimed at giving gay partners joint rights.

Sixty-six U.N. member states criminalise same-sex relations, data from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) shows.

Here is a timeline of other key statements by Pope Francis and the Vatican on LGBTQ+ issues:

2013 - Months after being elected as pope, Francis said gay people should not be discriminated against and that being gay itself is not a sin, but reaffirmed Catholic teaching that same-sex acts are sinful.

"If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?" he told journalists.

2016 - The Catholic Church should apologise to gay people and Christians should seek forgiveness from them for the way they have been treated, Francis said to reporters.

2016 - During a trip to post-Soviet Georgia, Francis said gender theory is part of a "global war" on marriage.

2018 - A Chilean man who was sexually abused by a priest says Francis told him in a private conversation that God had made him gay and loved him that way.

2019 - Gay priests should be celibate or leave the priesthood, Francis said in an interview published in a book, adding that homosexuality "is something that worries me".

2020 - Same-sex couples should be protected by civil union laws, Francis said in a documentary, "Francesco", about his life and teachings.

"Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it," he said.

March 2021 - The Vatican said priests cannot bless same-sex unions, and that such blessings were not be valid after some ministers began adopting the practice.

January 2022 - Francis advised the parents of gay children to support them and "not hide behind an attitude of condemnation" during his weekly audience at the Vatican.

May 2022 - Asked the most important thing for LGBTQ+ people to know about God, the Pope replied that he "does not disown any of his children".
Any "rejection of the Church" experienced by LGBTQ+ people should be instead recognised as rejection from "people in the Church", he said.

January 2023 - During an interview at the Vatican, Francis said being gay is not a crime.

February 2023 - On a flight returning from a trip to Africa, Francis said laws criminalising LGBTQ+ people are a sin and an injustice.

This article was updated on March 13, 2023, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Pope's reign.

Related stories:

Pope Francis says laws criminalising LGBT people are a 'sin' and an injustice

Support your children if they are gay, pope tells parents

In setback for gay Catholics, Vatican says church cannot bless same-sex unions

(Reporting by Hugo Greenhalgh and Lucy Middleton in London; editing by Sonia Elks. Please credit Openly, the LGBTQ+ news website from the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters. Visit https://www.openlynews.com)

Openly is an initiative of the Thomson Reuters Foundation dedicated to impartial coverage of LGBT+ issues from around the world.

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