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Philippine gay community hails pope's comments

Non-judgmental statement may lead to better integration reporter, Manila

July 30, 2013

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An organization of Filipino gays today said Pope Francis’s recent comments on homosexuality paves the way for integrating a much maligned group into mainstream society.

Pope Francis told reporters on a flight back to Rome from his visit to Brazil for World Youth Day that homosexuals should not be marginalized because of their orientation.

The Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines (ProGay) said the statement "is a marked improvement over his predecessor's harsh bitchy remarks each time the media interviewed [Pope Benedict XVI] about homosexuality."

The group also praised the pope "for signs of increased activism against poverty and social and political oppression."

"If Francis ever decides to visit the Philippines, we wish the pope to seek out the urban poor lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender jobless and underpaid youth who are experiencing triple oppression of gender discrimination, poverty and vulnerability to sexually transmitted diseases that are worsened by old Catholic-inspired stigma against us," said Clyde Pumihic, a ProGay spokesperson.

However Pope Francis also reaffirmed the Church's position that homosexual acts are a sin and said its opposition to gay marriage was clear.

Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon said the pope’s statement should be the attitude of all Christians.

"You are not to judge anyone," he said, adding that the pope’s comment does not mean that gays, whether priests or not, are free to practice homosexual acts.

"These are forbidden for all people at all times. In fact, there are canonical sanctions for priests committing such sinful acts," he said.

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