Saturday, December 29, 2007

Spain Investigates Clergymen Over Homophobia Claims

Two Spanish clergymen - one a Protestant evangelist, the other a Roman Catholic bishop - are under attack for alleged homophobia.

The Rev. Marcos Zapata, the head of an evangelical group that operates centers for troubled children in the Galicia region, recently held a seminar for parents titled: "How to Raise Heterosexual Children".

People who attended the speech say that Zapata called homosexuality an illness and an addiction, comparing it to alcoholism and drug abuse. He went on to say that that homosexuality could be "cured" through therapy.

Zapata said that in his own family he reinforces masculine roles for his two sons by watching professional wrestling.He also told fathers to "hug your sons as much as you can, because if you don't, perhaps another man will".

The regional government said it has opened an investigation to determine if the speech violated Spanish law which bans hate speech against gays.

A Spanish national LGBT rights group said it may take Zapata to court on a charge of libeling gays.

Evangelical preachers, mostly trained in the US, have been making inroads in mostly Catholic Spain attracting a large number of followers.

Meanwhile, the Catholic bishop of the Canary island Tenerife is under fire for comparing homosexuality to pedophilia and drug addiction.

Bernardo Alvarez said in an interview that "homosexuality harms society, and we will pay for it."

The conservative bishop also claimed that many young people who are abused were themselves responsible.

Alvarez claimed that many minors seek out adults for sex.

"If one isn't careful, they could even provoke it," Alvarez said.

"Sexuality is more complicated than one suspects."

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