Last edited: February 13, 2005

Religious Groups Threaten Lawmakers for Article 103

Associated Press, May 30, 2003

By Istra Pacheco

In a series of threatening speeches, various religious groups on Friday opposed the derogation of Article 103 of the Penal Code, which classifies sexual relationships between couples of the same sex as illegal.

The Chairman of Pentecostal Churches of God, Rev. Pedro Torres Velazquez, said that if the legislature eliminates article 103 and tries to approve marriage between people of the same sex, his parishioners are ready to go to jail to prevent it.

“The Government will need a lot of money to expand prisons (because) we are ready to be in jail to avoid it,” said Torres Velazquez at a packed legislative hearing, where a police officer had to control the entryway.

The chairman of the Pentecostal Fraternity (FRAPE), Rev. Angel Marcial, condemned the fact that only Judiciary Committee chairman Eudaldo Baez Galib was present at the public hearing.

“When the evangelists come to the legislature, senators vanish, but then, those are the ones who visit our churches seeking votes,” said Marcial angrily. At the same time, he said, parishioners “will be paying attention to those legislators who listen to the gay population when they visit the legislature” at the time of general elections.

“Our population is bigger (than the one which endorses eliminating Article 103), and in electoral terms, that’s what counts,” said Torres Velazquez.

Five religious organizations participated in the public hearing to oppose the derogation of Article 103, citing that it may promote a form of sexual intercourse which to their knowledge represents more risk of sexually transmitted disease.

Most of the speeches contained explicit language on anal intercourse and its alleged negative impact on human health.

“There are studies which reveal that sodomy is an urgent public health problem that has to be managed by the state. . . and the state is required to protect the health, safety and people’s morals,” said Angel Esteban Martinez, chairman of the Evangelist Christian Churches Network.

Contrary to what Martinez has said he would do on Wednesday, he did not include in his written speech a proposal for a referendum to allow the people to decide if Article 103 of the Penal Code should be derogated.

Organizations added that leaving Article 103 intact protects children and is in harmony with Biblical principles.

Meanwhile, nearly 100 people prayed and sang hymns on the Capitol’s outskirts allegedly asking for “wisdom for the legislators” who are evaluating the code.

Article 103 allows a sentence from six to 12 years in prison for a person convicted of sodomy, even when adults have the intercourse takes place in private between consenting adults.

Homosexual groups say they look forward to derogation of the article, arguing that it violates the right to intimacy protected by the Constitution.

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