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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 28, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 04
Catholic bishop apologizes for 'faggots' remark
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Catholic bishop apologizes for 'faggots' remark

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A Peruvian Catholic bishop was forced to apologize for using anti-Gay slurs in comments he made to reporters on January 24.

Bishop Luis Bambaren, said to be influential in Peru's Roman Catholic hierarchy, was stopped by reporters as he was leaving a church event and asked for his views on same-sex marriage.

Bambaren replied that politicians 'are just looking for votes when they propose useless things like Gay marriage.'

Then he added, 'I do not know why we talk about Gays. Let's speak in Creole or Castilian: They're faggots. That's how you say it, right?'

In Peru, the English word 'Gay' is used when the speaker wants to convey a positive meaning, but the Spanish 'maricon' is used to convey a negative meaning, equivalent to 'faggot' in English.

The issue of same-sex marriage came to the fore because vice presidential candidate Carlos Bruce told El Comercio newspaper that he and presidential candidate Alejandro Toledo had marriage equality as 'part of our political agenda.'

Toledo was president of Peru from 2001 to 2006 and is considered the frontrunner in the April 10 election.

At present, only a civil unions bill covering same-sex couples is being considered by Peru's Congress.

Peru's senior church officials, including Cardinal Luis Cipriani - the top Catholic cleric in Peru - have been vocal about their opposition to Gay marriage and the proposal for same-sex civil unions.

Bruce said later that he realized the Catholic Church opposes marriage equality, but he expected them to be civil nevertheless.

'What is wrong is that instead of giving rational arguments he sunk to the level of insults,' Bruce said about the bishop's remarks.

Christian Olivera of the LGBT group Homosexual Movement of Lima went further, describing Bambaren's language as hate speech.

'Bambaren's claim to call Gay people 'faggots' is totally unacceptable and constitutes an incitement to hatred,' Olivera said in a statement.

'In a country where we should all see ourselves as equals, Bambaren is encouraging violence by using a term that represents what is disgusting and perverse. Despising a community is not an example of what one supposes are Christian values.'

By January 26, Bishop Bambaren was forced to apologize.

'I ask for an apology for everyone who felt offended. It is an offensive word, and [homosexuals] deserve respect,' Bambaren said in a statement.

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