Pope Francis meets the journalists during an airborne press conference aboard the airplane directed to Rome, at the end of his pastoral visit to Congo and South Sudan, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023. | Tiziana Fabi/AP Photo


Pope Francis and the leaders of Anglican churches have denounced the criminalisation of homosexuality, in a historic joint press conference.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday (Feb 05) after visiting South Sudan, the Pope said such laws were a sin and "an injustice".


LGBT people are children of God


The Pope added people with "homosexual tendencies" are children of God and should be welcomed by their churches.

His comments were backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the global Anglican Church and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland.

The two leaders of the Anglican Churches travelled with the Pope to South Sudan where they jointly called for peace in the war-torn country.

It is the first time the leaders of the three traditions have come together for such a journey in 500 years.

Expressing his own support, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland referred to the Bible, saying: "There is nowhere in the four Gospels that I see anything other than Jesus expressing love to whoever he meets, and as Christians that is the only expression that we can give to any human being in any circumstance".


Pope supports civil union laws for same sex couples




During the news conference Pope Francis repeated his view that although the Catholic Church cannot have sacramental religious marriage of same-sex couples inside Churches he supported civil union laws that provided equal protection for same sex couples.

The Pope stressed that laws banning homosexuality were "a problem that cannot be ignored".

He suggested that 50 countries criminalise LGBT people "in one way or another", and about 10 have laws carrying the death penalty. Currently 66 UN member states criminalise consensual same-sex relations.


Current status in Sri Lanka


Sections 365 and 365A of Sri Lanka’s Penal Code is also used to persecute and prosecute LGBT people, despite neither laws referring to “homosexuality”.

Several activists, lawyers and Members of Parliament have called to repeal or amend Sri Lanka’s Penal Code to end the continued persecution of LGBT people.

Last year SLPP MP Premnath Dolawatte submitted a Private Member’s Bill amending the Penal Code but the Justice Ministry has been silent on these efforts.


Justice Minister once ruled in favour of an article calling to rape lesbian women


Justice Minister, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, during his time as head of the Press Council, ruled that “lesbianism” equals sadism and did not think there was anything wrong in calling convicted sexual offenders to "cure" lesbians of their "illness" by raping them.

In 2017, the Justice Minister called homosexuality a “mental illness”. The World Health Organisation and the Sri Lanka College of Psychiatrists have both confirmed that being LGBT is not a mental illness.


Condemning LGBT people a sin - Pope


The Pope observed that to condemn someone like this is a sin, asserting that criminalizing people with homosexual tendencies is an injustice.

"This is not right. Persons with homosexual tendencies are children of God," said the Pope.

"God loves them. God accompanies them... condemning a person like this is a sin."


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