In the documentary titled Francesco, Pope Francis for the first time endorses same-sex civil unions. In it he states that gay and lesbian people are children of God. Till date, the moral position of the Church has been to not recognise same-sex marriage. However, this statement can open new doors of recognition by the Church. This recognition by a religious leader can open up new avenues for acceptance of LGBTQIA+ individuals in the world.
The documentary touches upon all issues that Pope Francis has been vocal about. It includes the climate justice project, racial discrimination, income inequality among others. The documentary is a call to all human beings to step up and take action. The documentary also includes the statement which endorses same-sex civil unions so that such couples are under the purview of law. The question is does a statement like this have any real impact? A statement endorsing same-sex unions will send ripples across the world because Pope Francis is a globally venerates leader. But what does this mean for the community at large and the same-sex marriage project?
Same-Sex Marriage Project Across the World
Twenty-nine countries across the world have legalised same-sex marriage unions. Costa Rica being the latest country to do so. It means that in twenty-nine countries same-sex couples can legally cohabit as partners. In other countries, the battle for same-sex civil unions are ongoing. India currently has four petitions pending in High Courts of Delhi and Kerala which argues that same-sex marriages must be legalised. Once the law is enacted or the court decides in favour of marriage, religious institutions have a very important role to play. Same-sex marriage unions are governed by the legal architectures in every country and have very little to do with religion.
If one were to look at a history of religious opposition to same-sex unions or same-sex love, the history is brutal. Love in human history has a violent history and same-sex love or queer love one that defies the norms of heterosexuality is always contested by religious entities. In 2017, when the petition for the decriminalisation of homosexuality was being heard, one of the greatest opposition to the petition came from the religious groups. Such opposition did not deter the decriminalisation which eventually occurred in 2018.
Does It Matter?
While the Pope’s remark that same-sex marriage unions should be legalised is a progressive statement. It does not have any real-world impact or repercussions because in most countries there is a division between religion and law. The domain of religion is always kept separate from the domain of law. The domain of law sanctifies and legalises same-sex unions. This is not impacted by religious stances within the same country. It is time that religious also started reforming their conservative stances on many issues. A figure like Pope Francis can shape and influence the opinions of millions across the globe. Perhaps this statement will allow more queer people to come out and find acceptance from places that were closed to them.
Picture Credit: KHOU.com
The views expressed are the author’s own.