SAN JOSE, Costa Rica

The aversion to homosexuality, and the violence that can accompany it, appears to originate less in political ideologies than it does in “religious doctrines of power transformed into cultural sensitivity,” says Latin American political scientist Helio Gallardo.

In an article, Gallardo notes that in Saudi Arabia, homosexual partnerships can bring the death penalty, while in Nicaragua homosexuality is considered a crime punishable by imprisonment.

Gallardo adds that in Latin America and the Caribbean, many Christian clerics are homophobic, “and they find a basis for their social violence in a mandate of their God.”

To support his view, the political scientist notes the example of an Argentinean judge, who since July has found herself performing marriage ceremonies for homosexuals, as a result of the country’s laws on same-sex marriage. The judge has now said that she will no longer do so because of her “Christian principles.”

“In the Bible, God does not approve of that form of living. The Bible teaches me that, first of all, I have to obey the law of God, and then human law. God loves all people but does not approve of the bad things that they do ... A relationship among homosexuals is bad,” the judge was reported as saying.

In his article, Gallardo describes the legal acceptance of homosexual marriage by Argentina as being of “special importance.” Since the Iberian conquest of South America, Gallardo says, the region has been “politically and culturally a zone marked by a ‘dominant way of thinking,’” of which, he says, the most complete expression has been Roman Catholic Christianity.

For Catholic institutions, the writer concludes that homosexual practice “constitutes an aberration.” The significance of what has happened in Argentina, he says, implies the undermining of a “culture of discrimination that is one of the central focuses of ‘legitimate’ social violence in the subcontinent, and of the cowardice and impunity that accompanies it.”