Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, the president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and a former top contender for the papacy, condemned Uganda's draconian new anti-gay law this week and called for its harsh penalties to be repealed.
The AP reports:
[Turkson] said Tuesday that "homosexuals are not criminals" and shouldn't be sentenced for up to life in prison.
Speaking to reporters in Bratislava where he attended a conference on the Catholic Church and human rights, Turkson said the Vatican also calls on the international community to keep providing aid.
These latest comments are a stark reversal for Turkson, who was previously an outspoken defender of anti-gay laws. In 2012, for example, Cardinal Turkson told the National Catholic Reporter that the desire to persecute gay people in many nations is perfectly understandable, and that the "intensity of the reaction [to homosexuality] is probably commensurate with tradition."
Turkson also rebuked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for delivering an address to the African Union Summit in which he called on African nations to repeal laws that criminalize homosexuality and end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, questioning whether what he called an "alternative lifestyle" is a human right.
And when CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour asked Cardinal Turkson whether he was worried that the clergy sex abuse crisis would spread to Africa, Turkson responded that the pedophile priest problem is actually a homosexuality problem, and that "traditional" African homophobia helps keep kids safe:
"...African traditional systems kind of protect or have protected its population against this tendency a little bit. Because in several communities, in several cultures in Africa homosexuality or for that matter any affair between two sexes of the same kind are not countenanced in our society, so that cultural, if you want, the taboo that traditionally has been there, has served to keep this out."
It looks like Turkson has moderated at least some of his dangerously extreme anti-LGBT views in the years since, and that's nice, but these words of condemnation would have been a hell of a lot more helpful before countries like Uganda and Nigeria passed their disgusting LGBT persecution laws.