Spanish prosecutors have opened an investigation into newly chosen Spanish Cardinal Fernando Sebastian Aguilar after a gay-rights group accused him of hate speech for calling homosexuality a "defect".
public prosecutor for the southern province of Malaga, Juan Carlos
Lopez, said he had opened a preliminary inquiry "to clarify whether the
allegations constitute a criminal offence," according to a document
obtained Wednesday by AFP.
Sebastian, who is close to Pope
Francis, is one of 19 new cardinals chosen by the pontiff last month to
be officially appointed on February 22.
A week after being
picked, the 84-year-old archbishop emeritus of Pamplona gave an
interview to a Malaga newspaper that drew condemnation from gay-rights
"A lot of people complain and don't tolerate it but
with all respect I say that homosexuality is a defective way of
manifesting sexuality, because that has a structure and a purpose, which
is procreation," he said.
He compared homosexuality to his own
high blood pressure -- "a defect I have that I have to correct as far as
I can" -- and said: "Pointing out a defect to a homosexual is not an
offence, it is a help because many cases of homosexuality can be
recovered and normalised with adequate treatment."
interview was published, gay and lesbian rights group Colegas lodged a
complaint against Sebastian for violating the constitution's guarantees
of dignity and non-discrimination and for "clearly inciting hate and
"We're very satisfied because this is the first
time" such an investigation has been opened, Colegas president Paco
Ramirez told AFP Wednesday.
The archbishopric of Malaga condemned
the move, saying Sebastian had not used the word "disease" and accusing
his critics of "distorting his words".
Activists have launched a
petition to the pope to withdraw his nomination of Sebastian, which the
website hosting it, change.org, says has gathered 20,000 signatures.