Pope Francis has criticised laws that criminalise homosexuality as “unjust”, saying God loves all his children just as they are

and called on Catholic bishops who support the laws to welcome LGBTQ people into the church. “Being homosexual isn’t a crime,” Francis said

Francis acknowledged that Catholic bishops in some parts of the world support laws that criminalise homosexuality or discriminate against the LGBTQ community,

and he himself referred to the issue in terms of “sin”. But he attributed such attitudes to cultural backgrounds

and said bishops in particular need to undergo a process of change to recognise the dignity of everyone.

“These bishops have to have a process of conversion,” he said, adding that they should apply “tenderness, please, as God has for each one of us”.

In the United States, more than a dozen states still have anti-sodomy laws on the books, despite a 2003 Supreme Court ruling declaring them unconstitutional.