San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Same-sex union advocate slams Costa Rica church for stoking opposition

Costa Rican gay rights activists have decried what they call the Roman Catholic church´s return to Inquisition times for mobilizing church members against a bill that would give legal recognition and rights to same-sex unions.

“(The church) has gone back to the times of witch hunts and … the Holy Inquisition,” Abelardo Araya, spokesman of the Diversity Movement, told newswire EFE on Monday. Araya´s remarks came one day after clergymen urged Catholic followers to sign a petition to launch a public referendum in the hopes of blocking the same-sex bill, which is pending debate in the Legislative Assembly.

San José Archbishop Hugo Barrantes said the referendum is a public initiative that seeks to “defend life, the principles of the church and matrimony,” according to the daily La Prensa Libre.

According to Araya, the church “should abstain from government politics,” adding that Catholic leaders have “manipulated” the issue.

“…In Costa Rica it´s not homosexual marriage that´s being spoken of, but rather the formalization of the union between persons of the same sex,” Araya said.

More than 200,000 signatures are needed to put the bill through public referendum, an event that highlighted deep societal divisions when it played out over the issue of free trade with the United States in 2007.

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