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‘It’s time to understand homosexuality’ – Cardinal Appiah Turkson

Homosexuality should not be a criminal offence and people should be helped to understand the issue better, a top cardinal from Ghana has told the BBC.

Cardinal Peter Turkson’s comments come as parliament discusses a bill imposing harsh penalties on LGBT people.

His views are at odds with Roman Catholic bishops in Ghana, who say homosexuality is “despicable”.

Last month, Pope Francis suggested he would be open to having the Catholic Church bless same-sex couples.

He added, however, that the Church still considered same-sex relationships “objectively sinful” and would not recognise same-sex marriage.

In July, Ghanaian MPs backed measures in a proposed bill, which has still not completed its passage through parliament, that would make identifying as LGBT punishable with a three-year prison sentence. People who campaign for LGBT rights could also face up to 10 years in jail.

Gay sex is already against the law and carries a three-year prison sentence.

In their statement in August, issued along with other leading Christian groups in the country, the Ghanaian bishops also said that Western countries should “stop the incessant attempts to impose unacceptable foreign cultural values on us”, the Catholic Herald newspaper reported.

Cardinal Turkson, who has at times been regarded as a future candidate to become pope, told the BBC’s HARDtalk programme that “LGBT people may not be criminalised because they’ve committed no crime”.

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