Gays Abroad Have Most to Gain from Pope Francis’ Latest Comments
The Pope did not change any official Catholic position when he stated on Monday that gays should not be marginalized or judged. But the effects of his words could be transformational in parts of the world where homophobia is institutionalized. This is especially true in sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the developing world.
Catholicism has exploded in sub-Saharan Africa over the past century, from 1% of the region in 1910 to 21% in 2010, according to the Pew Research Center. Attitudes about homosexuality in sub-Saharan Africa are also some of the least accepting in the world. A June 2013 Pew report found that 98% of Nigerians say society should not accept homosexuality, as well as 96% of Ugandans, and the numbers are similarly high in neighboring countries. “The Pope’s comments will have significant resonance in many African countries, including Nigeria, Cameroon and Uganda, and also in the Caribbean,” says Graeme Reid, director of the LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch.