A congressional committee in Peru has rejected a bill that would establish civil unions for same-sex couples, after a public debate that saw a Catholic bishop use an antigay slur to describe the gay legislator who drafted the measure.
The Congressional Justice and Human Rights Committee Tuesday voted down the bill by a margin of 7-4, with two abstentions, the Peruvian Times reports. A few days earlier, vote, Monsignor Luis Bambaren, bishop emeritus of the city of Chimbote, expressed strong opposition to the legislation and called its sponsor, Congressman Carlos Bruce, a "maricon," Spanish for "faggot."
"Congressman Carlos Bruce is making a fool of himself with all of this, appearing -- excuse me for the term -- like a faggot in the middle of everything," said Bambaren, as translated by the Times. "He himself has said he is gay. Gay is not the Peruvian word, the word is faggot."
Bruce said the bishop's words "reflect the hate that is typical of homophobia" and that Bambaren was resorting to insults, as he lacked arguments, the Times reports. The congressman also said Bambaren's statement was out of line with Pope Francis's more conciliatory attitude toward gay people. "It bothers me that he insults 3 million Peruvians who share with me the same orientation," Bruce added. "I hope he apologizes."
Bambaren did make an apology (of sorts) after the vote, issuing the following written statement: "I respect and embrace those born homosexual and ask the same of their families and society. If homosexual people felt offended, I apologize and I pray for them."
The Times notes that the bill was unlikely to pass in the heavily Catholic nation, but Bruce and his allies say its time will come and that they will propose it again in the next session of Congress.
"Today, you have seen which lawmakers are backwards, those that want to deny the rights of others, who feel superior and consider that there are Peruvians of a second class," Bruce said after the vote. "We are on the right side of history, and we are sure that this is going to be approved."