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Clergy blasts councilman's required-condom plan

Roman Catholic priests in Tulua, a Colombian town, are up in arms about a councilman's proposal that men and women 14 and older must carry a condom at all times to reduce unwanted pregnancies // and sexually transmitted diseases.

Tulua's councilman William Pena has said he would be presenting a formal proposal requiring all men and women — even those just on a visit to the town — to carry at least one condom. Those caught empty-pocketed could be fined $180 or ordered to take a safe sex course, he said.

Tulua has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in Colombia, he said. The proposal will be debated by other town leaders and could go into effect by March.

Many Roman Catholic priests in Colombia are fuming over the plan. The Rev. Jesus Velasquez said it would only encourage sexual relations and ridiculed it as absurd.

The Rev. Roberto Sarmiento, another priest, said improved sex education would be a better solution. Rather than carry a condom in the pocket, people should instead carry the responsibility of the consequences of sexual relations mean.

The proposal is the most radical in a series of pro-condom efforts across Colombia, with a HIV population of 190,000, a figure only surpassed by Brazil in Latin America, according to the World Health Organization.


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