Peruvian Bishop Luis Bambaren, an
influential cleric, has apologized for referring to gay people as
“faggots” while discussing the issue of marriage.
The issue seeped into the country's
presidential race two weeks ago when Carlos Bruce –
vice-presidential candidate for Alejandro Toledo, the leading
candidate for the April 10 presidential election – told Peruvian
daily El Comercio that gay marriage “is a part of our
political agenda.” Bruce, however, has advocated for civil unions,
saying marriage remains out of reach.
Bambaren on Monday told reporters that
politicians “are just looking for votes when they propose useless
things like gay marriage.”
“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?” he added.
Bruce chided the cleric: “What is
wrong is that instead of giving rational arguments he sunk to the
level of insults.”
Christian Olivera of the gay rights
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
Bambaren later apologized, saying gay
people “deserve respect.”
“I ask for an apology for everyone
who felt offended,” he said. “It is an offensive word.”