Archbishop Charles Daniel Balvo

In a welcome move, the Pope’s representative, or ‘Nuncio’, to Kenya, Archbishop Charles Daniel Balvo, has urged the country not to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

According to a report by Kenya’s The Star, the American-born Balvo made the plea at the commissioning of a pastoral centre at the Catholic Cathedral in the town of Embu.

He said that while the Catholic Church did not approve of homosexuality, gays and lesbians should be accorded respect like any other person.

“The homosexuals should be defended against violation of their dignity and human rights,” Balvo said.

“They are human beings like anyone of us,” he added.

While the Vatican has stated at the UN that homosexuality should not be criminalised and gays should not be discriminated against, it has failed to disseminate or champion this stance.

The Catholic Church has instead actively campaigned against the recognition and legalisation of same-sex marriage around the world.

Retired Pope Benedict XVI also previously railed against fluid gender identities and homosexuality, calling these a “manipulation of nature”.

Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya, with penalties of between five to 14 years imprisonment.

Although prosecutions are not common, Amnesty International recently reported that police and extortionists sometimes threaten to have LGBT people arrested in order to demand money or goods in exchange for not exposing them.

Under the new 2010 Kenyan constitution, the criminalisation of homosexuality may be unconstitutional, but this has not yet been challenged in court.

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