Will the Next Pope Support Uganda’s ’Kill the Gays’ Bill?

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Wednesday February 13, 2013

One of the leading candidates to replace Pope Benedict XVI apparently supports Uganda's controversial "Kill the Gays Bill," Gay Star News reports.

Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson is a favorite to become the next pope, but many LGBT activists may be concerned over his support for anti-gay measures and that he's defended Uganda's dangerous bill. The National Catholic Register reported last year Turkson, 64, said people need to understand why African governments are creating anti-gay bills and the "intensity of the reaction is probably commensurate with tradition." He added that people need respect African culture.

"When you're talking about what's called 'an alternative lifestyle', are those human rights?" he said of U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon, who has criticized African countries' anti-gay laws. "There's a subtle distinction between morality and human rights, and that's what needs to be clarified."

"He [Ban Ki-moon] needs to recognize there's a subtle distinction between morality and human rights, and that's what needs to be clarified," Turkson added.

According to the Bilerico Project, when Turkson was asked why homosexuality is a stigma in Africa, he said, "Just as there's a sense of a call for rights, there's also a call to respect culture, of all kinds of people. So, if it's being stigmatized, in fairness, it's probably right to find out why it is being stigmatized."

There are currently 37 countries in Africa that have passed laws that criminalized homosexuality. Punishments vary from country to country, but gay men can be subjected to whippings, jail time and capital punishment.

According to a 2009 article by Ghana Business News, Turkson defended Benedict's views on condoms and said they should not be the solution to HIV and AIDS. He added that condoms give Africans a sense of false security and are "helping the disease spread."

It should come to no surprise that the Ghanaian cardinal does not support marriage equality.

"We need to find ways of dealing with the challenges coming up from society and culture," he told the British newspaper, Telegraph, recently. He also said he believes the Catholic Church must "evangelize," people that have "alternative lifestyles, trends or gender issues."

On Monday Benedict, 85, announced that he would resign on Feb. 28 due to health issues, which makes him the first pontiff in 600 years to resign.

A number of religious figures are now vying to become the next pope, including Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze and Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet. Gay Star News points out that Arinze compared homosexuality with pornography, infanticide and adultery during his 2003 speech at Georgetown University in the United Kingdom. Arinze even went as far as condemning people who wear rainbow sashes and said they are "showing their opposition to Church teaching on a major issue of natural law and so disqualify themselves from being given Holy Communion."

Both Arinze and Ouellet oppose gay marriage. While Canada lawmakers and church officials were debating gay marriage in Canada, Ouellet called homosexuality an "abomination" and later said the gay rights movement was a "black cloud over America."

The Vatican will elect a new pope by the end of March.