January 2, 2002
by Rex Wockner, International News Report
The new Constituent Assembly of East Timor voted to remove gay protections from the new nation's draft constitution December 13, PortugalGay.PT reported.
Fifty-two of the legislature's 88 members specifically voted to exclude "sexual orientation" from an antidiscrimination clause. Discrimination will be banned based on "color, race, gender, marital status, ethnic origin, economic or social status, beliefs or ideology, politics, religion, education, and mental or physical condition."
One member of the assembly, João Carrascalão, called homosexuality "an illness" and "an anomaly" and said protecting gays would create "social chaos." Another member said the only homosexuals in East Timor are foreigners.
The people of East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia in 1999. In response, according to www.easttimor.com, "Indonesian-trained militia in the country were unleashed across the country massacring civilians, cutting power and water lines, and burning 85 percent of the buildings in the country, including virtually all schools and nearly all businesses."
The nation is presently under UN protection, governed by a UN Transitional Authority. Power will be handed over on May 20, 2002. Members of the Constituent Assembly were elected by voters this past August.