Vatican’s gay blessing ban stokes fear among African LGBT Catholics

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03/29/2021

The Vatican’s recent decree banning Catholic priests from blessing same-sex marriages has stoked fear among the LGBT community in countries across Africa, where gay people are routinely discriminated against or even arrested because of harsh laws criminalizing same-sex activity. Nigeria is one place with such a law on the books. If a person is found engaging in a same-sex relationship and convicted, they can be punished with a 14-year prison sentence. Activists say the measure’s passage in 2014 led to a spike in violence against LGBT people. Paul, a 23-year-old Nigerian who asked to use a pseudonym for fear of reprisal, told NCR he has been living in fear since he came out as gay in 2018. He said the March 15 decree from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith complicates issues for him and his friends, who struggle for acceptance in “a society that derides and attacks us.” “We believe this will put us in a difficult situation,” said Paul. “The church should accept us the way we are and not make our lives miserable. This [statement] has dashed our hopes that one day we will come forward to receive a priest’s blessing at the altar as couples.”

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