LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Kentucky nonprofit advocating for LGBTQ+ rights is praising Pope Francis for criticizing laws that criminalize homosexuality.
During an interview with the Associated Press, Francis said that homosexuality is sin, but not a crime. He also called on Catholic bishops to welcome the LGBTQ community into the church.
"To have the head of one of the largest religious denominations in the entire globe to once again affirm the divinity and the wholeness of LGBTQ people gives me hope that we're moving in a direction of acceptance and love," Fairness Campaign Director Chris Hartman said.
Hartman says the Pope's support is needed right now. He says the LGBTQ community is under attack throughout the country and here in Kentucky.
He said state legislators have filed three anti-LGBTQ+ laws recently.
Nearly 67 countries or jurisdictions worldwide criminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity, 11 of which can or do impose the death penalty, according to The Human Dignity Trust, which works to end such laws.
"We've seen more LGBTQ laws proposed not just in Kentucky, but across the entire United States in the past couple years than we have in the past decade combined," Hartman said. " And that's because our opponents are investing more money, more energy, more time into figuring out how they can chip away at the LGBTQ+ civil rights that we have gain over the past several decades."
Hartman is grateful Pope Francis called these laws "unjust," but says other leaders should do the same, including Louisville's archbishop Shelton Fabre.
WHAS11 reached out to the city's archdiocese on Wednesday. A spokesperson said: "No one is available to comment on this story, and we do not usually release statements on media interviews with the Holy Father."