Pope Francis said on Friday that government leaders targeting LGBTQ people remind him of the Nazis.
In Rome, the pope warned members of the International Association of Penal Law, "I confess that when I hear some speeches by someone responsible for public order or a government, I am reminded of Hitler's speeches in 1934 and 1936,” according to CNN.
"They are typical actions of Nazism which with its persecutions of Jews, gypsies, people of homosexual orientation, represent a negative model 'par excellence' of a throwaway culture and a culture of hate,” he continued.
Francis did not refer to any specific governments, but LGBTQ people are subject to persecution all over the world. This month alone, five men in Malaysia were sentenced to caning and jail time for attempting gay sex. Ugandan police rounded up more than 100 people at an LGBTQ-friendly bar in Kampala. Activists went on trial after being arrested at a Pride march in Ankara. Marriage equality was overturned in the Cayman Islands. And trans women of color continue to face an epidemic of violence in the United States.
DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke told the Washington Blade in a statement, “I hope that leaders and individuals around the world understand why the Pope is speaking out against this trend, and take stock of their role in creating climates that can lead to violence.”
However, Duddy-Burke said she hopes Francis’ remarks “are also understood to be applicable within the Church, and that Catholic leaders who say hateful, disparaging and dehumanizing things or act to limit the human rights of LGBTQ people and others immediately change their ways.”
Pope Francis’ approach to LGBTQ people has appeared more compassionate than that of his predecessors. He reportedly “showed care” when meeting with Catholic LGBTQ ally Rev. James Martin in October and has said those who reject LGBTQ people lack a “human heart." He also famously asked “Who am I to judge?” about gay priests.
At the same time, many point out that the Catholic church’s teachings on LGBTQ issues have not changed. As The Advocate reported in April, Francis “has also said gay priests are not welcome in the church. He has met with gay and transgender people who described his manner as loving and supportive, yet he has said same-sex couples don’t meet the church’s definition of family and denounced gender-affirmation procedures. The church remains intractably opposed to same-sex relationships; Catholics with same-sex attractions should never act on them, according to church doctrine.”