Pope Francis, in a documentary released on Wednesday, expressed support for “civil union laws” for same-sex couples, Reuters reported.

“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family,” he said in the documentary titled Francesco, by Evgeny Afineevsky. “They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it.”

The pope added: “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.” His reference was apparently to the time when he had backed legal protection for same-sex couples as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. The pope had, however, opposed same-sex marriages.

Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh told Reuters that the pope’s comment was the “clearest language” he had used about homosexuality, since his appointment in 2013.

The pope’s comment also marked a departure from his views in 2013, when he had said in a book that equating homosexual relationships to heterosexual marriages would be “an anthropological regression”, according to BBC. He has made several different comments about homosexuality over the years.

The same year, the pope had famously remarked: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Pope Francis had also said that “there could be affected children” if same-sex couples were allowed to adopt. He added that every child needed a male father and a female mother to develop an identity. In 2018, the pope had said that homosexuality within the clergy was a “serious matter” and that he was worried about it.