Thursday, May 14, 2009

Peru 'bar gay people from police'

Peru has announced that it will ban homosexuals from the police force for damaging the image of the institution.

The law is one of several new regulations put forward by the Interior Minister, Mercedes Cabanillas.

Ms Cabanillas is trying to shake up the institution, which has a dismal reputation among the general public.

But critics say some of the new laws, especially those regarding sexual orientation or activity, are unconstitutional.

The law states that any police officer who has sexual relations with someone of the same gender will be indefinitely suspended from the police force.

The same applies to officers who have extra-marital relations - their actions are also deemed to cause scandal and denigrate the institution's image.

They are among a raft of new regulations, which also include provision for sacking police officers who accept bribes, organise or take part in strikes and protest marches.

Ms Cabanillas' strong-arm tactics have earned her some public backing and the nickname "Thatcher" in the Peruvian media, after the former Conservative British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.

Traditional machismo means openly homosexual police men are extremely scarce, but gay rights activists are growing in strength and this new law will provoke a debate.