Decriminalize homosexuality: Cardinal Gracias

Mumbai(Matters India): Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay, wants the Indian government to decriminalize homosexuality.

“I had been reflecting on the question of whether the Church should be more welcoming toward members of the LGBT community for some time. I met some groups and associations of LGBTs and I had an understanding for them,” one of the top ranking prelates in the Catholic Church The Hindu newspaper.

He said he does not want the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community to feel ostracized. “That’s why I came out publicly some time back saying I was in favor of decriminalization of Section 377.”

The Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code says whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

The cardinal went on to say that he personally feels that homosexuality should not be criminalized.

“For me it’s a question of understanding that it’s an orientation. I know there is still research being done whether it’s a matter of choice or matter of orientation and there are two opinions on this matter. But I believe maybe people have this orientation that God has given them and for this reason they should not be ostracized from society,” said the prelate, one of the eight cardinals Pope has appointed to advise him on the management of the Church.

Going on the cardinal said he thinks there is a lack of understanding within the church on LGBT issues.

“The Church has always said people should not be discriminated against and I know the Vatican itself is not for criminalization of these people. I have to make a distinction of course. Catholic theology makes sexual morality rather clear.”

He said many within the Church still think sexuality is a choice, and that he has told colleagues to “tone down their language” against gay people.

The archbishop is a long-time advocate of LGBT rights, and acceptance from within the Church, reports

In 2013, he warned members of the church to be more inclusive, and to persecute members of the LGBT community less.

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