The secretaries general of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (which held its international conference in Manila in 2003) have released a statement which speaks for itself, with great clarity:
“Though the election of a pope should in a normal world be of concern just for the people following the teaching of Catholicism, the influence the Roman Catholic Church has on many governments and authorities governing the lives of Catholics and non-Catholics alike, justifies the concern of LGBTI activists and organisations in most countries of the world in relation to the election of Francis I.
For as much new the election of Cardinal Bergoglio represents for the Catholic Church – the first Latin American, the first Jesuit, the first to adopt the name of Francis – very little will change with regard to the position of the Vatican hierarchies on sexual orientation and gender identity. The fierce opposition of Bergoglio to the Argentinian same-sex marriage and gender identity laws does not leave much ground for hope, though the LGBTI movement was aware from the beginning of the conclave that none of the ‘papabili’ could be really thought of as a potential progressive leader of the Roman Catholic church. However, if the new pope is really committed about fighting the injustice of poverty, then he should also realise that people marginalised because of their sexual orientation and gender identity end up in the very same circle of poverty and social exclusion like everybody else.
Secular LGBTI activists and organisations, who do not want religious entities to interfere with the enjoyment of their human rights, and religious LGBTI activists and organisations, who seek to change the oppressive structure of their churches from the inside, will have to join forces in a renewed struggle for the liberation of all oppressed lesbians, gays, bisexual, trans and intersex people, regardless of their faith or lack thereof.”
Gloria Careaga and Renato Sabbadini Co-Secretaries General of ILGA