Today ILGA World welcomed Pope Francis’ support for LGBTI families and civil unions, recognising the positive impact these words will have on many in our LGBTI communities across the world.

“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it,” the Pope said in a documentary that premiered today in Rome and reflected on pastoral care for those who identify as LGBTI. He also addressed the need for legal protections, by stating “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.”

These words are likely to resonate with many in our communities.

“We welcome these words of support from the Pope”, said Luz Elena Aranda and Tuisina Ymania Brown, Co-Secretaries General of ILGA World. “We know how life-changing it will be for tens of millions of LGBTI persons worldwide – both LGBTI Catholics themselves and those living in traditionally Catholic societies – to hear him recognising us, our right to a family, and who we love”.

“In too many places our communities are scapegoated by religious leaders for easy political gain”, ILGA World’s Co-Secretaries General continued. “Statements like this therefore make a real difference. We call on more faith leaders to make a similar stand and push for meaningful respect and compassionate acceptance.”

Such respect, however, cannot be a pick-and-choose matter: it needs to be about all aspects of our life, and not just our right to our families – which are already recognised through marriage in 28 UN member States across the globe. Respect needs to be about everyone in our communities. The refusal to clearly speak up against fearmongers using so-called “gender ideology” to target our communities, dangerous stances against gender identity issues, and a long-standing silence on the damage brought by ‘conversion therapy’ continue to hurt LGBTI people on a daily basis.

Meaningful dialogue is happening in many spaces, from within local places of worship and families, to theological seminaries and regional gatherings, right up to the international level, including in intra-denominational discussions and at the United Nations. These initiatives are often brought forward by courageous LGBTI people of faith, sharing their stories. We see more and more leaders showing up for marginalised groups. Their presence and words can offer hope for a world where we might all live in peace and dignity. Meaningful words bring us closer to this goal, but we are not there yet and action is needed: the struggle for our communities will continue until all of us are truly free and equal.



In 2019, ILGA World joined an historic meeting at the Vatican between LGBTI leaders and the Roman Catholic Church.

ILGA World has been working for many years on dialogue with faith leaders, including at the Holy See. In 2014 we spoke at an event during the Family Synod (the “Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family”).  More recently, in 20182019 and 2020, we have supported events at the United Nations where LGBTI persons of faith have raised their voices.

(opening photo: Flickr / Darold Massaro)