The pontiff shared his view in a new documentary "Francesco" by the US director Evgeny Afineevsky. The film premiered earlier in the day at the Rome Film Festival.
"Homosexuals have the right to be in the family. They are children of God and have the right to a family. No one should be excluded. What we need to do is pass a law on civil unions so that homosexuals can be legally protected," the Italian Corriere della Sera newspaper quoted the Catholic Church's highest official as saying.
Pope Francis has been taking a more tolerant approach toward homosexuality since becoming the head of the Roman Catholic Church in 2013.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres believes that Pope Francis voicing support for same-sex civil unions is a positive move, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a press briefing on Wednesday.
"I've just seen the press reports, I haven't seen the documentary," Dujarric said when asked about the statements made by Pope Francis. "If it's quoted accurately, [it is] a very positive move."
Dujarric added that Guterres has spoken out forcefully against homophobia, in favour of LGBTQ rights and stated that people should never face persecution or discrimination based on who they love.