Pope Francis, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, in a move that looks to further amplify heated divergences on abnormal unions, has given his most clear support to same-sex marriage.

The Pope made the remarkable declaration on “Francesco” a documentary film directed by Russian filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky, that premiered at the Rome Film Festival, according to the Catholic News Agency, the CNN reported.
According to the Pope, “homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it,” the Pope reportedly said in the film which also explores his work and views in other issues, including climate change, migration and economic equality, according to the film’s website.

“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” the Pope added.

Although the Vatican has said the Popes’ comments were misunderstood and that the comments were not from a new interview as Pope Francis has been subtly throwing support for gay people since he was elected in 2013.

“The key is for the church to welcome, not exclude, and show mercy, not condemnation. If a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge?” the pope said back in 2013.
Even before he became pope, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis had endorsed same-sex union after debates on whether to legalize such arrangement sprung in Argentina. However, his latest comments in the film the producers hoped would be allowed to streamed from homes is the first time Francis as pope would openly endorse same-sex union.

The pope’s conservative opponents were enraged by his statements, according to the Guardian UK, regarding it as part of an effort to shift the church towards progressive values. Some even accusing him of heresy.

His views were a sharp contrast of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who had in a famous remark labelled homosexuality “an intrinsic moral evil.”

The Guardian UK reported that in 2003, a Vatican document “set out why it was necessary to oppose legal recognition of homosexual unions because they “obscure certain basic moral values and cause a devaluation of the institution of marriage”.

Several countries around the world has held contrary views on legalizing gay marriages. Acts of gay sex are illegal in at least 30 countries across Africa where persecution of gay people still prevails.

Even in countries where it is legalized, gay people still face a lot of discriminations and stringent legislations. In June, before Poland’s second round of presidential elections, incumbent Andrzej Duda presented a draft amendment to the constitution that would ban gay couples from adopting children.

Nigeria is among countries yet to legalize Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender [LGBT] unions. Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a bill in 2014 criminalizing same-sex relationships in Nigeria, despite pressure from Western governments to preserve the rights of gay, lesbian and bisexual people.

The Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA) bans gay marriage, same-sex “amorous relationships” and membership of gay rights groups with penalties of up to 14 years in prison.

“Many African political and religious leaders argue that decriminalizing homosexuality would be akin to promoting it and that it goes against their traditions and culture,” the report noted.

Meanwhile, in recent times, there has been some growing acceptance of gay men, women and transgender in Nigeria with the likes of “Bob-risky” gaining popularity, even with his gay antics.

A 2017 survey which compared attitudes towards LGBT people in Nigeria against a 2015 poll showed a growing acceptance of such abnormality. One of the contentious issues in the debate over homosexuality and same sex marriage in Nigeria is whether a marriage between persons of the same gender is totally alien to Nigerian culture and tradition. Those opposing same sex marriage have continued to argue that same gender union is foreign to Africa.

Across Africa, homosexuality is often viewed as a violation of cultural and religious values. Gay sex is outlawed in 38 African countries, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Trans and Intersex Association. In 13 African countries, homosexuality is legal or there are no laws banning it.

In Mauritania, Sudan and Northern Nigeria, homosexuality is punishable by death. Offenders can receive life imprisonment in Uganda, Tanzania and Sierra Leone.

In 2013, a legislation was proposed in Nigeria that would ban same-sex blessing or marriage ceremonies, penalize those involved in them, and outlaw, efforts to promote same-sex activity of any kind and through any means, with penalties of five years imprisonment. This proposed legislation has been publicly upheld by the Nigerian moral community.

The Nigerian senate took a strong stand against same sex marriage in Nigeria in an all-in-favor debate on a bill prohibiting same sex marriage in Nigeria.

To be continued

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