Back in September, Mexican Bishop José María de la Torre Martín waded into controversy with statements he made comparing homosexual marriages with bestiality.
“If they allow gay marriage tomorrow, soon they will be letting a man marry his dog, and their puppies will get their inheritance,” the controversial bishop from the state of Aguascalientes said last year, angering rights groups and other organizations.
The National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination (Conapred) demanded that the bishop publicly apologize, but it wasn’t until Monday that De la Torre succumbed to pressure and offered a retraction.
De la Torre had made the remarks after a legal ruling was handed down in Aguascalientes – a state in which 90 percent of its 1.2 million inhabitants are Roman Catholic – that permitted a group of same-sex couples to marry in a civil ceremony.
“I affirm categorically that at no time and under no circumstances did I try to use these expressions in a discriminatory and exclusionary manner,” the bishop said in a statement released on Monday.
“I want to offer a public, sincere and respectful apology to the people in general and in particular to those who felt that my expressions have constituted an act of discrimination against them.”
In predominately Catholic Mexico, support for gay rights has gained ground over the years. According to a Conapred study, around 70 percent of Mexicans believe that homosexuals should share the same rights as heterosexuals.
Last month, Mexico’s Supreme Court opened the door for same-sex marriages to take place across the country. In its decision, made public on June 11, the court ruled unconstitutional any laws that establish that marriage is designed solely for “procreation” and should only be limited to a man and a woman.
The top court’s decision did not overturn any law in Mexico’s 31 states but opened the door to couples who want to challenge local legislation.
So far, gay marriage laws have been passed in Mexico City and the states of Coahuila and Quintana Roo.
Despites the advances made by gays and lesbians in the country, the latest National Survey on Discrimination taken in 2010 showed that seven out of 10 homosexuals in Mexico believed that they did not have equal rights.
According to the Conapred poll, 40 percent of Mexicans said they would not permit any gay person to live under their roof. It also found that the public institution that least tolerated gays and lesbians was the police force, followed by the Church.