Venezuela's Maduro, citing Pope, asks congress to consider same-sex marriage


FILE PHOTO: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks virtually during the 75th annual U.N. General Assembly, which is being held mostly virtually due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, from Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela September 23, 2020. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday asked the country's National Assembly to discuss same-sex marriage during its next term beginning in January, citing Pope Francis' comments this week supporting civil unions for same-sex couples.

The Pope's comments were the clearest language yet he has used on the rights of gay people. Gay marriage is not currently legal in heavily Roman Catholic Venezuela, despite laws or court decisions in other South American countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Colombia legalizing same-sex marriage.

"I have friends and acquaintances who are very happy with what the Pope said yesterday," Maduro said at an event with leaders of his ruling Socialist Party ahead of legislative elections scheduled for Dec. 6. "I will leave that task, the task of LGBT marriage, to the next National Assembly."

The National Assembly is currently under opposition control. The opposition has vowed to boycott the vote, arguing Maduro plans to rig it in his party's favor.

(Reporting by Mayela Armas in Caracas and Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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