(above) Rafael Rey, former minister in Alan García's administration, criticized Susana Villarán for her role in Gay Rights movement as Lima mayor.

Pride and prejudice characterize the gay rights movement in Peru

The gay rights movement in Peru celebrated a milestone last Sunday.

Not only was did the 10th annual Gay Pride march have record attendance, but it was led by the mayor Susana Villarán.

She affirmed that she still regards herself as Roman Catholic. And she defended both the parade and her participation in it, despite some high-profile criticism, such as from former vice-presidential candidate Rafael Rey.

As reported in ontopmag.com, Villaran stated that "my conviction is that everyone has a right to be in Lima and express themselves," she said.

Several days later, however, the participation of the municipality in gay rights resulted in heated debate. A public hearing was held on the matter of an ordinance, sponsored by city council member Manuel Cardenas to "to promote gender equality and prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation."

A provision would permit  "public displays of homosexual affection in businesses or areas open to the general public." According to the Catholic News Agency, which reported on the story, this would be tantamount to forcing the general public into accepting homosexuality, as well as a "violation of religious freedom."

Carlos Polo, representing the Population Research Institute’s Office for Latin America, led the vocal opposition to the ordinance at the hearing, stating "We are not talking about intolerance, we are talking about promoting something that only certain groups believe in."