Fri, Sep 14, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Gay rights activists stage rally in front of Nicaraguan embassy

SODOMY LAW Activists said that discriminatory clauses against same-sex partners have continued because of pressure from the Catholic Church

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Gay rights activists stage a demonstration outside the Nicaraguan embassy in Taipei yesterday, urging the Central American country to abolish an article in its criminal code that criminalizes sodomy.

PHOTO COURTESY OF EMILY WU

Gay rights activists staged a demonstration outside the Nicaraguan embassy in Taipei yesterday as part of an international campaign against the country's sodomy law.

"Love is not a crime!" activists from six non-governmental organizations shouted in Mandarin, English and Spanish outside the embassy.

The international campaign was initiated by Amnesty International Mexico and also took place in 10 other countries.

"Nicaragua is the only Latin American country with a law that prohibits sex between people of the same sex," said Emily Wu (吳佳珊), an Amnesty International Taiwan member. "That is not only a violation of the Nicaraguan Constitution, but also of international human rights."

Article 204 of Nicaragua's criminal code stipulates that "anyone who induces, promotes, propagandizes or practices sexual intercourse between persons of the same sex commits the crime of sodomy and shall incur one to three years' imprisonment."

The article was enacted in 1992 and remains effective today, surviving changes to laws initiated by left-wing President Daniel Ortega after his election last year.

"Many discriminatory clauses in Nicaraguan laws have been changed since the change of power last year, but this particular article remains in effect because of pressure from the Catholic Church," said Wu Chia-chen (吳佳臻), a spokeswoman for the demonstration.

Although the action may not generate an immediate response, "we hope to at least give support to the Nicaraguan government to continue legal reform," Wu Chia-chen said.

Unable to talk to anyone from the embassy, the demonstrators left a petition in the embassy's mailbox.

An embassy spokeswoman told the Taipei Times by telephone that the embassy was not authorized to respond, but would forward the petition to the Nicaraguan government.

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