The head of Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State, Pope Francis has says gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to have “civil unions”.

It came in a documentary called Francesco that had its debut screening at the Rome Film Festival on Wednesday.

The film looks into the issues that mean the most to Pope Francis, including the environment, poverty, migration, racial and income inequality, and the people most affected by discrimination.

“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God,” Francis said in one of his sit-down interviews for the film. “What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.”