A spokesman for Mexico’s Catholic Church claims that clergy members are being “censored” over their opposition to marriage equality.
Father Hugo Valdemar, a representative of the Archdiocese of Mexico, believes that Conapred — the country’s council to prevent discrimination — is persecuting the church, broadcaster Telesur reports. Following nationwide anti-marriage equality protests that rocked the Latin American nation, Conapred advised church officials to avoid speaking publicly about the demonstrations.
“There is persecution against the church,” Valdemar said in a press release. He warned of a “gay dictatorship” that threatening to take over Mexico.
“It is something very serious, the state now determines the sexual behavior of citizens and forbids any attempt to return to normalcy,” he continued. “The state prohibits parents from helping their children to solve their sexual doubts and prohibits homosexuals from changing, but if they want to change their sex they fund that atrocity, it's something diabolic.”
Valdemar is referring to an article promoting antigay conversion therapy that was set to be published in Desde la Fe, a journal of the archdiocese. Called “No One Is Born Gay,” the piece was “censored” by Conapred officials, according to Valdemar.
The recent surge of antigay activism, which Conapred called “absolutely discriminatory,” highlights tensions over social progress in the country.
In 2015, Mexico’s Supreme Court issued a “jurisprudential thesis” paving the way for marriage equality in the nation. While the court ruled that individual state prohibitions on same-sex marriage were illegal, those bans have to be legally challenged by constituents to be overturned. Currently, marriage equality is established in nine of Mexico’s 31 states.
To expedite that process, President Enrique Peña Nieto has expressed support for further legislative action, striking down the bans once and for all.
That has led to widespread backlash in a nation where Pew Research found in 2015 that roughly half 50 percent of citizens support the freedom to marry, a figure that’s ahead of Brazil and Chile but behind Uruguay, where 62 percent of citizens are in favor of same-sex unions.
On September 10 and 11, marriage equality opponents, led by the National Front for the Family, marched in dozens of Mexican cities. The right-wing group — which, according to its website, “regards the family as the ideal social unit” — claims that over a million participated in the demonstrations, in addition to 100,000 signatories. In Querétaro, protesters reportedly numbered 40,000.
“I think it was something unprecedented, the awakening of the society of Querétaro in defense of the family,” National Front organizer Jose Alcantara told Reuters.
Many have suggested, however, that those numbers are inflated.
Although the country’s Catholic Church has not openly backed the protests, many clergy joined the demonstrations throughout Mexico.