Will Pope Francis raise LGBT rights during his first visit to Africa?
LGBT people in Kenya and Uganda are hoping that the Pope will raise the issue of LGBT equality during his first visit to Africa.
Pope Francis is touring Kenya before travelling to Uganda on Friday and then to the Central African Republic on Sunday.
Today he has given mass in Nairobi as well as given a speech to young Kenyans urging them to end violence in the country, but has as yet not mentioned LGBT discrimination.
Speaking to Reuters, several LGBT Ugandans and Kenyans expressed hope that the Pope would criticise anti-LGBT discrimination and violence. One man, Keith, told Reuters that he wished that the Pope would ““Tell the congregation that being gay is normal and so we deserve our rights, equal rights.”
A trans woman also told Reuters “I would like the Pope to tell fellow believers that we are human beings like them, they worship the same god that we worship,
“The Pope’s coming is going to give us an opportunity to come out and tell our stories.”
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But whilst LGBT people are hoping for the Pope to bring up the issue, religious leaders and politicians are hoping for the opposite. Simon Lokodo, Ugandan ethics minister, told the Associated press “I am praying that he doesn’t talk about this. Because it will open a Pandora’s box,
“…let him focus on acceptance but not tolerance. We have always condemned this style of life, especially in the line of exhibitionism. It is bad enough that homosexuals are there, but let them not go ahead and expose themselves.”
John Baptist Odama, the Archbishop of Gulu, did not believe that the Pope will address homosexuality because “There is a clear teaching of the church on homosexuality.
“Because the aim of it is not to promote life but to act against it, those with that tendency are called to abstinence.”
The Pope has been hailed by many for being more progressive on LGBT issues than his predecessor, having previously told reporters “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
However, Pope Francis has also been reluctant to address the issue of homosexuality as anything other than a sin.