Newly-elected Pope Francis has received a frigid welcome from Argentina’s leading LGBT rights group.
In a statement released yesterday by the Argentine LGBT Federation (FALGBT), the organization condemns the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new pope, saying: ‘the election… marks a clear desire of the Vatican to radicalize its position against the recognition of diverse family structures’.
Though several American LGBT rights groups including Gays and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) expressed hopes that the new pope would further LGBT rights instead of condemning them, the FALGBT speaks from personal experience on the former bishop’s anti-gay reputation in Argentina.
In a recent interview with the Washington Blade, FALGBT president Esteban Paulón pointed out that Pope Francis was one of the most vocal opponents to the same-sex marriage bill that President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner signed into law in 2010.
Bergoglio has also gone on record saying that the campaign for marriage equality was ‘the plan of the devil’ and called his own efforts against the gay marriage law ‘God’s War’.
The then-bishop was also one of the main opponents to Argentina’s ground-breaking gender identity law of 2012 that allows adults to change their gender in Argentina without court or doctor approval.
Paulón said in a FALGBT statement: 'Perhaps the fact that Pope Francis has lived for the last two and a half years in a country where marriage equality is a reality and none of the catastrophes he predicted have come to pass might make him reconsider his negative stand on issues related to equality’.
In recent years Argentina has pushed LGBT rights to the forefront of the regional and international spotlight. In 2012, Argentina also authorized the marriage of gay and lesbian foreigners. Foreign same-sex couples looking to marry need only a copy of their passport and a temporary address in Argentina to be legally wed.
Paulón added: ‘It would be extremely positive if the Vatican, under Pope Francis, changed its ways and finally supported the United Nations Declaration Against the Penalization of Homosexuality by signing on to the statement’.
'At the very least, he will no longer be able to make arguments from a lack of knowledge as Argentina today is a more equal and peaceful country in which families have been strengthened and diversified thanks to the Marriage Equality and Gender Identity laws’.
Pope Francis succeeds Benedict XVI, who resigned out of consideration for his health and amidst a slew of sex scandals involving high-ranking officials in the Catholic Church.