Mormon leader says 'there are no homosexual members' in his church

People pass by a temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.Reuters

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) Elder David A. Bednar believes that there is a clear distinction between feeling an attraction towards members of the same sex and acting on those feelings, and this is why he can confidently say that there are "no homosexual members of the church."

He was asked last Feb. 23 by a church member in Chile, "How can homosexual members of the church live and remain steadfast in the gospel?"

Bednar replied by asking the church member to rephrase the question. "There are no homosexual members of the church. We are not defined by sexual attraction," he said. "We are not defined by sexual behaviour. We are sons and daughters of God. And all of us have different challenges in the flesh."

Bednar said that for some people, those physical challenges meant being "born with a body that is not fully functional."

"Simply being attracted to someone of the same gender is not a sin," he further explained. "There are many members of the church who may have some manifestation of that attraction. They honour their covenants, the keep the commandments, they are worthy, they can receive the blessings of the temple and they can serve in the church."

The only time that these feelings become a sin, said Bednar, is when people "act on the inclination or the attraction."

"We do not discriminate and we are not bigots. We extend Christ-like love to all sons and daughters of God," he continued.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints actually implemented a new policy just last year banning same-sex couples from the church. Even their children will be denied communion until they agree to end their union.

Bednar's statements echoed the ones made in 2007 by then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to Raw Story.

"In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country," Ahmadinejad told a group at Columbia University. "In Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I do not know who has told you we have it."