Pope Francis has described laws criminalising LGBTQ+ people as a sin and an injustice, saying the criminalisation of homosexuality is “a problem that cannot be ignored”.

“Persons with homosexual tendencies are children of God. God loves them. God accompanies them … condemning a person like this is a sin. Criminalising people with homosexual tendencies is an injustice,” he said on Sunday.

Sixty-six U.N. member states criminalise same-sex relations, data from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) shows.

Here is a timeline of other key statements by Pope Francis and the Vatican on LGBTQ+ issues:

2010 – As head of the Roman Catholic Church in Argentina, the Pope, then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, says gay marriage is “a strategy to destroy God’s plan”, unsuccessfully urging lawmakers to vote against legalising it.

He expresses particular concern about allowing same-sex couples to adopt, saying it is important to ensure children have “both a father and a mother”.

2013 – Months after being elected as pope, Francis says gay people should not be discriminated against and that being gay itself is not a sin, but reaffirms Catholic teaching that same-sex acts are sinful.

“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?” he tells journalists.

2016 – The Catholic Church should apologise to gay people and Christians should seek forgiveness from them for the way they have been treated, Francis tells reporters.

2016 – During a trip to Georgia, Francis says gender theory is part of a “global war” on marriage.

2018 – A Chilean man who was sexually abused by a priest says Francis told him in a private conversation that God had made him gay and loved him that way.

2019 – Gay priests should be celibate or leave the priesthood, Francis says in an interview published in a book, adding that homosexuality “is something that worries me”.

2020 – Same-sex couples should be protected by civil union laws, Francis says in a documentary, “Francesco”, about his life and teachings.

“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it,” he says.

March 2021 – The Vatican says priests cannot bless same-sex unions, and that such blessings are not be valid after some ministers begin adopting the practice.

January 2022 – Francis advises the parents of gay children to support them and “not hide behind an attitude of condemnation” during his weekly audience at the Vatican.

May 2022 – Asked the most important thing for LGBTQ+ people to know about God, the Pope replies that he “does not disown any of his children”.

Any “rejection of the Church” experienced by LGBTQ+ people should be instead recognised as rejection from “people in the Church“, he says.

January 2023 – During an interview at the Vatican, Francis says being gay is not a crime.

February 2023 – On a flight returning from a trip to Africa, Francis says laws criminalising LGBTQ+ people are a sin and an injustice.

This article was updated on Feb. 6, 2023, to include comments made on Feb. 5.

Reporting by Lucy Middleton.

GAY TIMES and Openly/Thomson Reuters Foundation are working together to deliver leading LGBTQ+ news to a global audience.