Thursday, January 11, 2007

ITN: Costa Rica blood bank challenge, domestic violence in Chile, Mexico turns right on gays

Costa Rican man claims the National Blood Bank discriminates against gay men: On January 9th, Teletica reported that Alberto Cabesas, through his lawyer Marco Castillo, is challenging the constitutionality of a law that bars gay men in Costa Rica from donating blood (the law currently bans donations from "homosexuals, bisexuals, promiscuous [people] and drug-addicts). Cabesas and Castillo argue that it is unconstitutional to base the ban on sexual orientation instead of personal behavior. Mr. Castillio, if you remember, also argued (unsuccessfully) in favor of same-sex marriage when the issue reached the country's highest court back in May of 2006.

Historic meeting between gay leaders and religious leaders in Chile: Also on January 9th, La Nacion reported that the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (MOVILH) brought together leaders of the Evangelical, Presbyterian, Christian, Pentecostal and Jewish religious movements for a closed-door meeting to dispel confusion regarding an anti-discrimination bill currently being discussed in the country's legislature. A press release posted on the organization's website says that Evangelical leaders expressed fears fears that they might be prosecuted under the new bill based on their beliefs but lawyers present were able to explain that it was one thing for a religious leader to express his belief that homosexuality is wrong, a right to freedom of speech that would still be protected, and quite another to incite violence against gays as members of the right-wing Crusade of Power Evangelical Movement did last year when they organized a protest and called for the kiling of gays. Jewish religious leaders, says the press release, have backed the measure for more than four years.

Chilean court upholds conviction against man accused of domestic violence against his male partner: Also in Chile, today's El Mostrador reports that a Court of Appeals in the city of La Serena has upheld the conviction of 23 year old Honorino Muñoz Tapia for the "ongoing abuse" of his male partner under the country's Inter-Family Violence laws. In doing so, the court accepted that a same-sex couple living together for an extended period of time should be recognized as a partnership and falls under the oversight of family laws. Mr. Tapia is to serve 41 days in prison and attend mental health and alcohol abuse counseling. He is also forbidden to get anywhere near the victims for a period of a year (he also was abusive towards his ex-partner's mentally disadvantaged son).

Comments by Mexico's new Health Minister augur anti-gay policies: A mere six weeks after conservative Felipe Calderon took possession of the Mexican presidency, his Health Minister is promising to end programs that he sees as promoting homosexuality and speaks of "more education and less condoms" when it comes to HIV prevention.

In an extensive interview posted today in Excelsior, José Córdova Villalobos (pictured above) says that he will prioritize youth pregnancy prevention campaigns that focus on parents as educators rather than other prevention methods including the promotion of anticontraceptives.

Villalobos also criticized the work his office under former president Vicente Fox:
Villalobos criticized campaigns by the Health Ministry in the past six years to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases since he considers that frequently their message instead of being preventive, promoted high risk behaviors.

In particular, he expressed his rejection of campaigns that sought to eradicate discrimination against those who hold homosexual practices, a group that has become the primary transmitter of HIV/AIDS.
Villalobos was referring to a series of controversial public service radio announcements that the Ministry sponsored in 2005.

The paper publishes a transcript of one of the spots translated here as follows:
Mother: So you look very much in love, son, how long has it been?
Juan: Five months, mom
Mother: And likes the idea of being invited to dinner with our family?
Juan: Loved it! Even prepared a dessert dish that you are going to love!
Mother: I hope he likes what I made. By the way, what did you say was the name?
Juan: Oscar, his name is Oscar
VOICE OVER: Even if you think it's strange, many people still think badly of a situation like this one. Homophobia is the intolerance against homosexuality. Equality begins when we accept that every one is different.

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