Mary McAleese, who was President of Ireland from 1997 to 2011, has described the Catholic church’s teachings as “evil”.
The Catholic church does not recognise same-sex marriage and while it does not condemn homosexuals as people it maintains that any homosexual acts are a sin.
The former President was speaking ahead of Pope Francis’s two-day visit to the World Meeting of Families 2018 which will take place in Dublin and at the Knock Shrine in County Mayo later this month.
She said that she hoped that the church’s “evil” teaching on homosexuality would be changed in time.
McAleese was speaking at the Gaze LGBT Film Festival where she received the Vanguard Award.
Sarah Williams, chairperson of the Gaze Festival said: “Doctor McAleese’s unwavering support for the advancement of the LGBT+ community has been widely acknowledged and praised.
“We felt very strongly that we wanted to present her with this award this evening to mark her achievements.”
McAleese, who has a gay son, said that the Catholic church was homophobic, misogynist and anti-abortion and was not “the church of the future”.