- But the future for Venezuela remains murky.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has welcomed Pope Francis’ support for civil unions for same-sex couples and repeated his backing for marriage equality.
Francis made the comments in a documentary film, out last week. While he opposes marriage equality, he proposes civil unions as an alternative for same-sex couples. Moreover, his words will carry weight in Venezuela where seven out of 10 people are Roman Catholic.
What is less clear is how easy it will be to pass a marriage equality law, despite Maduro’s backing. The political situation in the country is far from certain as it prepares for elections on 6 December.
Maduro repeated his support for equal marriage as he spoke with leaders of his ruling Socialist Party preparing for the elections.
He said: ‘I have friends and acquaintances who are very happy with what the Pope said yesterday. I will leave that task, the task of LGBT marriage, to the next National Assembly.’
‘If I were gay I’d shout it to the four winds’
Pope Francis made headlines around the world for his comments on same-sex civil unions.
He said: ‘Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.’
While LGBT+ Catholics quickly welcomed the remarks, their true meaning may not be what marriage equality campaigners hope for.
The Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, said the pope had told him and other senior priests that his vision for civil unions ‘can in no way be equated to marriage’. Moreover, the archbishop argued it could include legal recognition for brothers and sisters living together.
Meanwhile, an equally big question is whether Maduro can make marriage equality happen in Venezuela.
He previously backed same-sex marriage in 2017. At the time, he said the Constituent Assembly – a body created to review Venezuela’s constitution – would decide on the issue.
However, despite majority support in the assembly, the issue has stalled as the country struggles with wider political and economic problems.
Moreover, many say Maduro is a dictator who has presided over an era with national shortages, extrajudicial murders and other crimes against humanity.
Nor will the December elections necessarily clarify the country’s future. The main opposition is boycotting the vote, arguing Maduro plans to rig it.
Despite his record on human rights, Maduro made it clear he supported LGBT+ equality in 2013. He said during a TV appearance:
‘If I were gay I’d take ownership of it with pride and shout it to the four winds and I would have no problem loving whomever I had to love with my heart.’