Pachakutik in the newsroom?
This is either more evidence (if any was needed) that terms like “conservative” and “liberal” mean very different things in Latin America, or that the world is indeed turning upside down … or at least Colombian newsrooms are.
From Colombia Reports:
A columnist for Medellin newspaper El Colombiano was fired after claiming that “god was wrong” when rejecting homosexuality in the Bible.
Conservative columnist Yohir Akerman jumped to the defense of Colombia’s LBGT minority that was offended last week by a university study claiming that homosexuality is an illness.
In his column, Akerman said that the La Sabana university concept of homosexuality was “obsolete, backward and coming from what the Bible has established on homosexuality.”
The columnist subsequently supported that claim citing bible verses in which is ordered that homosexuals and women who lose their virginity before marriage should be stoned to death.
“The Sabana university and the Constitutional Court should understand that continuing to define homosexuality as an illness, or treating the LGBT community as abnormal, based on the word of god, is as abhorrent as defending slavery, promoting capital punishment for children, or demanding the stoning of women who lose their virginity before matrimony,” said Akerman.
The full column (reprinted here) quotes chapter and verse in the Old Testament in making the case that the La Sabana “study” was based on biblical cherry-picking. Colombia’s BlueRadio quotes Akerman as saying he was ordered to “tone down” his column… specifically to re-write “god” (“dios”) as “Dios”. He had no objection to that, but did balk at removing the reference to Biblical support for slavery, and threatened to resign if the sentence was edited out.
El Colombiano did run the column… with a note saying that in publishing it, Akerman had resigned. Apparently, that was the first he heard of it.
Two things that stand out. A university still giving credence to the idea that homosexuality is an illness (and La Sabana Universidad includes a medical school!) does seem newsworthy. In the U.S., when a “university study” of this kind is mentioned, it is usually from one of those “religious” colleges run by fundamentalist Christians. In Latin America, outside of Opus Dei schools, or one like the Autonomous University of Guadalajara (which pre-dates Opus Dei, but is privately run by extreme un-reformed Catholics) I can’t imagine any “study” of this sort coming from a reputable university.
The second thing is that Akerman is usually considered a “conservative” (he also works for Mexico’s Televisa network), and — while I might cheer that conservatives are finally “getting it” otherwise — wonder if his conservatism wasn’t more in the nature of nepotism and convenience than anything else. Claiming he was never comfortable with his paper’s allegiance to the far-right Centro Democrático Party, he also admitted that he got his job thanks to his father’s then wife, formerly the paper’s editor, now a Senator.
Hardly an earthquake in Latin American conservatism, but something of a jolt to those who assume Latin American conservatives are “just like ours”.