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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 12, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 46
Pope interferes in Spanish politics, Queers hold kiss-in
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Pope interferes in Spanish politics, Queers hold kiss-in

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Visiting Spain on November 7, Pope Benedict XVI directly attacked Spanish laws allowing same-sex marriage, divorce, and easier access to abortion.

The pope was in Barcelona to dedicate Antoni Gaudi's Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) church as a basilica.

In response, about 200 Spanish Gays and Lesbians staged a kiss-in in front of the church as the pope arrived.

Sergi Benavent, a 22-year-old nursing student, told reporters he joined the kiss-in to show his opposition to those 'who want to love in just one way.'

'This is a peaceful demonstration that there are more ways of expressing one's love,' he said.

Later, some 500 women of all sexual orientations marched behind banners reading, 'The woman decides to be a mother' and 'Condoms save, the pope damns.'

One of the organizers, Montse Cervara, said it was important to oppose the pope, since the church is 'against all the rights we have fought to have recognized, like the right to choose.'

According to Associated Press, about 250,000 people turned out to cheer the pope and attend mass at Sagrada Familia.

During his sermon, the pope noted that the church of the Sagrada Familia was initially dedicated to the Holy Family consisting of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

He said that families are built on the 'indissoluble love of a man and a woman' which should be protected by law, and provided with financial and social benefits by governments.

He also denounced reproductive choice, saying 'the life of children [must] be defended as sacred and inviolable from the moment of their conception.'

On arriving in Spain on November 6, the pope blasted the Spanish government's secular policies.

In a pointed reference to the Spanish Civil War, the pope warned that an 'aggressive' secular movement in contemporary Spain was reminiscent of the 1930s.

No one in the audience could have failed to understand the implications of the pope's remarks.

In 1936, right-wing Spanish officers allied with the Catholic Church rebelled against a Socialist government and provoked three years of bloody civil war, followed by 35 years of the Franco dictatorship.

As if on cue, Mariano Rajoy, the leader of Spain's right-wing opposition party, gave an interview to El Pais newspaper, saying that the country's same-sex marriage law is unconstitutional.

Rajoy's party filed an unsuccessful constitutional challenge to the law when it was approved in July 2004.

'I will listen very carefully to the arguments of the Constitutional Court and the people, but I do not like the homosexual marriage act, and I do not think it is constitutional,' he said. 'My disagreement is about the use of the word 'marriage.'

Rajoy promised to repeal the law if he becomes prime minister in Spain's 2012 election.

'His words are a clear example of the power in Spain of the Catholic Church, Opus Dei, and [the right-wing party's] homophobia. Homophobia disguised as liberal conservatism,' said Tony Poveda, president of Federacion Estatal de Lesbianas, Gays, Transexuales y Bisexuales (FELGTB), Spain's largest LGBT rights group.

A 2008 study found that 66% of Spaniards approve of the law. In its first three years, over 12,000 Gay and Lesbian marriages were celebrated.

Socialist Jorge Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has been prime minister since April 2004. He introduced and passed Spain's marriage equality law.

Before boarding his flight back to Rome, the pope had a perfunctory 10-minute meeting with Zapatero at Barcelona's airport. Neither the pope nor the prime minister commented on the content of their conversation.

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