Catholic and Protestant churches in Honduras joined Tuesday in criticizing a government decision to grant legal recognition to three gay rights groups. "It's sad that the government is giving its blessing to homosexuals," Roman Catholic Church spokesman Jesus Mora told a news conference. He said the
government measure implies that "that kind of behavior is acceptable." The government on Friday granted legal recognition to three groups--the Violet Collective, the Gay Community, and the Gay-Lesbian Group--a relatively mundane step that essentially gives them the right to act before courts and government institutions.
The deputy justice minister, Fernando Suazo, said the measure does not authorize gay marriage but would help overcome discrimination. Suazo said the 15-year wait for action on the groups' petition for recognition "is due to discrimination because all Honduran citizens have the right to association." A spokesman for the groups, Nelson Arambu, said, "We are part of a country with problems that also affect the gay community--labor, education, health, human rights violations, poverty, and housing."
But many religious leaders saw the measure as support for homosexuality. "The church looks with love upon those who suffer from any illness, but homosexuality is a deviation of a psychological character," said Mora, a priest. "The church calls on them to live an upright life." The president of the Evangelical Fraternity, Osvaldo Canales, called news of the government measure "a bucket of cold water.... Recognizing those people is opening a space for promiscuity. Homosexuals and lesbians live in sin...and that should not be tolerated." Eight gay rights organizations in Honduras claim about 5,000 members.