Pope endorses LGBT civil unions - 2nd November 2020

Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome and head of the Catholic church, has publicly voiced his support for same-sex civil unions for the first time since becoming pontiff. Praised for the pastoral understanding it shows towards LGBT people, the move also provides a clear message for countries where the church opposes civil unions, but is likely to further consternation felt towards the papacy in certain traditionalist quarters within the church.

Pope Francis’ endorsement of this legal arrangement recognising and granting rights to same-sex couples came in an interview in new documentary film 'Francesco', recently premiered at the Rome film festival. He said, “Homosexual people have the 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. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”

The film seeks to publicise Francis' life and work and recounts Francis’ papacy over the last 7 years, detailing many of the trips he made prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, and his handling of the abuse scandals that have engulfed the church in recent years. It also focuses on issues that Francis has made the hallmarks of his papacy, including the environment, poverty, migration and inequality, and one scene captures the pontiff reassuring two male partners with children that their family will be welcome in church.

Although as pontiff he has never previously explicitly backed same-sex civil unions, Francis has consistently sought to make the church more welcoming and inclusive towards LGBT people in his public addresses since his appointment to the papacy in the spring of 2013.

Commenting on the film, director Evgeny Afineevsky said that he hoped people around the world would be able to stream ‘Francesco’ from the comfort of their own home, explaining, “If before he was able to travel to every periphery in the world, right now, only his words can travel. That’s why for me releasing the movie right now was so important – so that his words and his actions can travel around the world.”

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