Dutch Roman Catholic Church ‘castrated at least 10 boys’

Dutch Roman Catholic Church ‘castrated at least 10 boys’

Evidence of the castrations has emerged amid controversy that it was not included in the findings of an official investigation into sexual abuse within the church last year.

The NRC Handelsblad newspaper identified Henk Heithuis who was castrated in 1956, while a minor, after reporting priests to the police for abusing him in a Catholic boarding home.

Joep Dohmen, the investigative journalist who uncovered the Heithuis case, also found evidence of at least nine other castrations. “These cases are anonymous and can no longer be traced,” he said. “There will be many more. But the question is whether those boys, now old men, will want to tell their story.”

Mr Heithuis died in a car crash in 1958, two years after being castrated at the age of 20, while under the age of majority, which was then 21.

In 1956 he had accused Catholic clergy of sexually abusing him in his Church run care home.

Two clergymen were convicted of abuse but Mr Heithuis, a victim, was nonetheless transferred by police to a Catholic psychiatric hospital before being admitted to the St. Joseph Hospital in Veghel later that year.

There, court papers confirm, he was castrated “at his own request”, despite no submission of his written consent. Sources told Mr Dohmen that the surgical removal of testicles was regarded as a treatment for homosexuality and also as a punishment for those who accused clergy of sexual abuse.

Cornelius Rogge, 79, a well-known Dutch sculptor whose family knew Mr Heithuis in the 1950s, reported the castration to an official inquiry into abuse within the Catholic Church. But his evidence was ignored.

“We once asked Henk to drop his pants when the women were gone. He did that. He was maimed totally. It was a huge shock,” he said.

Last December, an official investigation by Wim Deetman, a former Dutch minister, received 1,800 reports of sexual abuse by clergy or volunteers within Dutch Catholic dioceses in the period since 1945.

The Deetman inquiry received a report of the Heithuis case from Mr Rogge but it was not followed up because “there were few leads for further research”.

Evidence emerged on Monday that government inspectors were aware that minors were being castrated while in Catholic-run psychiatric institutions.

Minutes of meetings held in the 1950s show that inspectors were present when castrations were discussed. The documents also reveal that the Catholic staff did not think parents needed to be involved.

There are also allegations that Vic Marijnen, a former Dutch Prime Minister, who died in 1975, was linked to the case.

In 1956, Mr Marijnen was the chairman of the Gelderland children’s home where Mr Heithuis and other children were abused. He intervened to have prison sentences dropped against several priests convicted of abusing children.

Dutch MPs will today call for a parliamentary investigation into the allegations.

“I am shocked that boys were being castrated in the 1950s,” said Khadija Arib, a Labour MP. “I want an independent investigation. We must find out how many cases there were, who knew about it and why the government did not act.”

Americans’ Role Seen in Uganda Anti-Gay Push

Americans’ Role Seen in Uganda Anti-Gay Push

KAMPALA, Uganda — Last March, three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the United States, arrived here in Uganda’s capital to give a series of talks.

The theme of the event, according to Stephen Langa, its Ugandan organizer, was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda” — and the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family.

For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”

Now the three Americans are finding themselves on the defensive, saying they had no intention of helping stoke the kind of anger that could lead to what came next: a bill to impose a death sentence for homosexual behavior.

One month after the conference, a previously unknown Ugandan politician, who boasts of having evangelical friends in the American government, introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which threatens to hang homosexuals, and, as a result, has put Uganda on a collision course with Western nations.

Donor countries, including the United States, are demanding that Uganda’s government drop the proposed law, saying it violates human rights, though Uganda’s minister of ethics and integrity (who previously tried to ban miniskirts) recently said, “Homosexuals can forget about human rights.”

The Ugandan government, facing the prospect of losing millions in foreign aid, is now indicating that it will back down, slightly, and change the death penalty provision to life in prison for some homosexuals. But the battle is far from over.

Instead, Uganda seems to have become a far-flung front line in the American culture wars, with American groups on both sides, the Christian right and gay activists, pouring in support and money as they get involved in the broader debate over homosexuality in Africa.

“It’s a fight for their lives,” said Mai Kiang, a director at the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, a New York-based group that has channeled nearly $75,000 to Ugandan gay rights activists and expects that amount to grow.

The three Americans who spoke at the conference — Scott Lively, a missionary who has written several books against homosexuality, including “7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child”; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a self-described former gay man who leads “healing seminars”; and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, whose mission is “mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality” — are now trying to distance themselves from the bill.

“I feel duped,” Mr. Schmierer said, arguing that he had been invited to speak on “parenting skills” for families with gay children. He acknowledged telling audiences how homosexuals could be converted into heterosexuals, but he said he had no idea some Ugandans were contemplating the death penalty for homosexuality.

“That’s horrible, absolutely horrible,” he said. “Some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people.”

Mr. Lively and Mr. Brundidge have made similar remarks in interviews or statements issued by their organizations. But the Ugandan organizers of the conference admit helping draft the bill, and Mr. Lively has acknowledged meeting with Ugandan lawmakers to discuss it. He even wrote on his blog in March that someone had likened their campaign to “a nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda.” Later, when confronted with criticism, Mr. Lively said he was very disappointed that the legislation was so harsh.

Human rights advocates in Uganda say the visit by the three Americans helped set in motion what could be a very dangerous cycle. Gay Ugandans already describe a world of beatings, blackmail, death threats like “Die Sodomite!” scrawled on their homes, constant harassment and even so-called correctional rape.

“Now we really have to go undercover,” said Stosh Mugisha, a gay rights activist who said she was pinned down in a guava orchard and raped by a farmhand who wanted to cure her of her attraction to girls. She said that she was impregnated and infected with H.I.V., but that her grandmother’s reaction was simply, “ ‘You are too stubborn.’ ”

Despite such attacks, many gay men and lesbians here said things had been getting better for them before the bill, at least enough to hold news conferences and publicly advocate for their rights. Now they worry that the bill could encourage lynchings. Already, mobs beat people to death for infractions as minor as stealing shoes.

“What these people have done is set the fire they can’t quench,” said the Rev. Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian who went undercover for six months to chronicle the relationship between the African anti-homosexual movement and American evangelicals.

Mr. Kaoma was at the conference and said that the three Americans “underestimated the homophobia in Uganda” and “what it means to Africans when you speak about a certain group trying to destroy their children and their families.”

“When you speak like that,” he said, “Africans will fight to the death.”

Uganda is an exceptionally lush, mostly rural country where conservative Christian groups wield enormous influence. This is, after all, the land of proposed virginity scholarships, songs about Jesus playing in the airport, “Uganda is Blessed” bumper stickers on Parliament office doors and a suggestion by the president’s wife that a virginity census could be a way to fight AIDS.

During the Bush administration, American officials praised Uganda’s family-values policies and steered millions of dollars into abstinence programs.

Uganda has also become a magnet for American evangelical groups. Some of the best known Christian personalities have recently passed through here, often bringing with them anti-homosexuality messages, including the Rev. Rick Warren, who visited in 2008 and has compared homosexuality to pedophilia. (Mr. Warren recently condemned the anti-homosexuality bill, seeking to correct what he called “lies and errors and false reports” that he played a role in it.)

Many Africans view homosexuality as an immoral Western import, and the continent is full of harsh homophobic laws. In northern Nigeria, gay men can face death by stoning. Beyond Africa, a handful of Muslim countries, like Iran and Yemen, also have the death penalty for homosexuals. But many Ugandans said they thought that was going too far. A few even spoke out in support of gay people.

“I can defend them,” said Haj Medih, a Muslim taxi driver with many homosexual customers. “But I fear the what? The police, the government. They can arrest you and put you in the safe house, and for me, I don’t have any lawyer who can help me.”