Thursday, October 13, 2005

Peru: So two guys walk into a church... or marriage, lies and videotape

Let's say that it took time for news to travel:

More than a month and a half ago, on August 25th, then 18-year old architecture student Marlon Rodriguez (l.) and 50-year old hairdreser Iván Guanilo (r.) walked into a Catholic church in Trujillo, Peru (a small town 485km north-east of Lima, according to the AP) and exchanged rings. Reverend Luis Enrique Mendoza Chavez oversaw the exchange and, according to the 60 Minutes-type show Panorama, became the first Catholic priest to officiate a marriage between a same-sex couple in Latin America.

News broke when Panorama ran footage of the wedding ceremony and reception on their October 9th nightcast.

In the video, according to, a beaming Iván said the couple had met at a disco: "I always dreamed about getting married."

Marlon for his part, said that he had only dated women before meeting Iván and admitted being initially confused about his feelings but eventually realized he was in love: "I am happy, that's why I asked him to marry me."

Except, no marriage took place.

In a press conference on Monday, in the wake of the behement Catholic church response that followed the airing of the video on Panorama, everything was denied:

"I was baptized by the Catholic church and always go to church - why [is Panorama] attacking me in this way?" said Iván, alleging that the footage was taken from a scene they were shooting for a movie called Love Doesn't Have Any Gender which he claimed was scheduled to be released in January of 2006.

According to El Comercio, Iván and Marlon only met through the filming of the movie, at the call of the film's director (and poet), Magdalena de la Fuente.

When Panorama broadcast the video, it did without the original audio track and only with running commentary from the anchorman which characterized as a real wedding ceremony.

To date, Panorama still insists that the report is correct. In an interview with RPP news, producer Almo Perez Luna is asked if the wedding ceremony was staged for a film and he responds:

Absurd... It's part of a ceremony to seal ther love. It's impossible that a movie would feature a real priest and people who never had acting experiencs. They are just scared, [the segments were never] maliciously edited.

But the RPP article goes on to say that Marlon also has claimed that he is not gay and was only acting as one for the film.

The Catholic church is alleging that people are trying to lift a "smoke screen" over the church in order to get gay marriage legalized in Peru.

Truth is that it seems that irresponsible journalism combined with the massive negative reaction that it has elicited from the Catholic church in Peru seems to have sealed any possibility that Peruvian gay couples will be able to marry any time soon.

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