In a Hard Talk interview with the BBC, Cardinal Turkson said although he thinks that gay people or LGBTQIA+ may not be criminalised, it shouldn’t be an imposition.
“Neither should these positions be imposed on cultures which are not ready for that,” he said in the interview with Stephen Sackur.
Read the full conversation below:
Stephen Sackur: “Let’s start with something which is very current, that is the discussion in the church on key issues of sexuality and gender.”
“Now I refer the beginning of this interview to Pope Francis and the hopes that have been vested in him to show leadership. I will put it to you that on some of these key issues for example, the churches attitude to homosexuality, for example the possibility of giving blessing to gay marriages in church, the attitude to LGBTQ community generally. Pope Francis has sent a confusion, not a clear message.
Cardinal Turkson: “No, but lately about a week or so ago he came out with a small document just saying clearly what his position on all of these are, that LGBT people can be blessed, they can be admitted to church, and all of that, they can even become God parents of children and people who are being baptised and all of that. So he [Pope] himself has signalled, partly stuff that used to be left neck below, undecided and all that and come clearly with these…
Stephen Sackur: “So you see him [Pope] as now following a policy which many people regard as, within the Catholic perspective liberal, doesn’t that put you [Turkson], personally in a very difficult position. Because your own position for example on homosexuality seems quite clear, I have looked at your record over many years, you have been a consistent conservative on these issues.”
Cardinal Turkson: “Those are the expressions again, conservative, progressive, you know, my thing has been this, and I’ll refer you to an interesting episode, a situation I got into responding to an invitation to go speak in Slovenia at one point and then the Bishops were wondering whether to allow it because there was a lot of media agitation.
“My position has simply been this, that LGBT, gay people may not be criminalised because they’ve committed no crime, but neither should this position also become something to be imposed on cultures, which are not yet ready to accept stuff like that.
Stephen Sackur: “You are Ghanaian, this summer, the Ghanaian Parliament passed, it is called the Appropriate sexual rights and family values at which a tougher regime for gay people clearly criminalises homosexuality in Ghana, up to 10 years in prison for LGBT… The Ghanaian Catholic Bishops Conference said that western countries must stop in certain attempts to impose unacceptable foreign cultural values on us. Are you backing that statement and therefore defending the criminalisation of homosexuality?
Cardinal Turkson: “What I just said to you is, my position is contrary to what has just been passed, to criminalise anybody, if you are able to identify the crime, LGBT cases are not to be criminalised but neither, and this I think is basically what caused all of this in Ghana, the Ghanaian culture has known of people, with some such tendencies, and I say this because there is an expression in the local Akan language of men who act like women, and women who act like men, there is an expression for them [Kojo Besia], which means that this phenomenon is been known in the culture in the community and all of that.
“But nobody went round to make any policy out of that, now I think what caused all of these was our attempts to link some foreign donations and grants to certain positions, which needed to be imposed in the name of freedom, in the name of respect for rights and all that. I think that is what led to this thing going to Parliament.”