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by Euro Reporter
2009-10-28 07:24:26
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The end classification of transsexualism as ‘illness’

A campaign that aims to end the classification of transsexuals as individuals who suffer an ‘illness’ as well as educating the general population that sexual diversity not limited to the male and female genre was launched in Lisbon this week. Identical events were held simultaneously in 38 cities in Europe, Latin America, the USA and Asia, to promote the Stop Trans Pathologisation 2012 movement that has been organized by more than 180 international associations.

Transsexualism is a condition in which an individual identifies with a physical sex different from the one they were born with. A medical diagnosis can be made if a person experiences discomfort as a result of a desire to be a member of the opposite sex, or if a person experiences impaired functioning or distress as a result of that gender identification. “The aim is to demand an end to the classification of non-conforming gender identities, like transsexual and intersexual [hermaphrodites] individuals, as mentally ill on reference documents belonging to the World Health Organisation’s American Association of Psychiatry (AAP), which will be reviewed in 2012 and 2014”, said Sérgio Vitorino of Portugal’s Pink Panther Association, which is promoting the event in this country.

Sérgio Vitorino believes the long process that individuals wanting a sex-change are subjected to leaves them open and vulnerable to social marginalization. “Contrary to what happens in Spain, sex change procedure in Portugal drag on for many years and people cannot live their lives to the full, because until they have completed the medical and processes they cannot alter their name or their genders on their identity documents”, he explained.


Saramago lashes out at church

Portuguese Nobel laureate José Saramago has presented his latest novel, “Caim”, describing his iconoclastic return to a religious subject as “an exercise in freedom”. “It’s not that this book is bad behaviour, but it’s without doubt an insurrection, an appeal for all to wake up to looking for what lies on the other side of things”, the 86-year-old author said on Sunday in unveiling the novel in the northern Portuguese city of Penafiel.

In “Caim”, Saramago takes an ironic look at the Old Testament story of Adam and Eve’s first son, Cain, who murdered his brother Abel out of jealousy over what he perceived to be God’s preference for his sibling. “None of this existed, obviously. They are myths invented by men, just as God is a creation of men”, the lifelong leftist activist told his audience in a 75-minute speech. “I simply lift the stones and show the reality hidden beneath them”. The presentation took place during a weekend-long literature festival, ESCRITARIA 2009, dedicated to honouring Saramago, who won the Nobel literature prize in 1998.

In response to Saramago, Portuguese Catholic leaders this week dismissed his presentation of his new, Old Testament-based novel “Caim” as a publicity stunt unbecoming to a world-renowned author. “A writer of José Saramago’s stature should follow a more serious path”, said Father Manuel Marujão, the spokesman for the country’s Episcopal Conference, dismissing the author’s description of the Bible as a “manual of bad habits, a catalogue of cruelties” as nothing more than “an advertising campaign”. Marujão said reading the latest novel by the 86-year-old Nobel laureate, an ironic account of the biblical story of Adam’s and Eve’s first son Cain, was not among his “priorities”. Catholic theologian Anselmo Borges reacted in a similar vein, telling the Lusa News Agency Saramago’s view of the Scriptures was “completely unilateral”.


Resisting police arrest in Alvor shoot-out

Three notoriously violent Eastern Europeans who are believed to be responsible for a series of robberies on homes throughout the Algarve and on the outskirts of Lisbon retaliated against PJ police officers who tried to arrest them by firing guns at close range in the middle of a street. The three men, aged between 25 and 35, are believed to be part of a transnational organisation that specialises in violent robberies on properties in Portugal and Spain.

They were approached on a street in Alvor (Algarve) by undercover special agents as they were getting into a car that was reported stolen from a foreign country, but had fake Portuguese licence plates. Upon identifying themselves as police officers the Eastern Europeans pulled out guns and started to shoot at close range. One of the three men manage to escape from police, the other two were arrested and taken to Portimão police station.

According to a PJ police source, the two men who were arrested have been identified as part of an “extremely well organized” Eastern European group that is responsible for various robberies on homes in Portugal and Spain. Both Spanish and Portuguese police were involved in an investigation which with the arrest of the two men has just had its first results. The group is known for singling out isolated villas, normally inhabited by elderly people who they hold captive to steal money, jewellery and art work. Some of those pieces of art were recovered following the detention.


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Emanuel Paparella2009-10-28 11:44:00
A pertinent question: would Josè Saramago have written Caim had he not been anti-Catholic, anti-religion, and indeed an atheist? A greater act of imagination, even for a Nobel prize winner, remains the ability to place oneself in the other's shces and write about the other side of the coin, even when one disagrees with it.

Emanuel Paparella2009-10-28 11:55:39
P.S. Perhaps the problem lies in confusing de-mythologizing with demytifying. They are not the same thing and those who are into de-mythologizing (i.e., they understand myth as falsehood)usually end up creating another myth butressed by their pet biased ideology.

ap2009-10-28 14:32:34
It's interesting that the portuguese priests didn't say anything when he was censored in Italy. Freedom of expression involves accepting that an atheist has the right to express his views without being asked to 'leave the country or change his nationality', doesn't it, Mr. Paparella?

ap2009-10-28 17:37:57
Yes, indeed there's always the other side of the coin. It involves several facts, namely:
1. Saramago is not anti-religion, he just believes the characters in the Bible as much as he believes the characters in his own books - and it doesn't mean that ones and the others are not based in real people
2. Perhaps Saramago was just trying to see if his country's public opinion has improved anything since his last book was censored - what he said was pretty casual and about the Old Testament in particular
3. The whole scandal created around it proves that things haven´t improved much, which is sad
4. He was invited by many of his critics to leave the country ('if he´s not well here, he can leave', 'if he's not well, don't come and promote his books here'), and even invited by a right-wing european parliament deputy to 'change his nationality'
5. Now that's pretty fun, isn't it? Silence and exile of people who disagree with one are methods used by dictators... or then eurodeputies who don't believe in the freedom of expression. It's true that this one doesn't believe in it: he was totally silent when Saramago was censored by Berlusconi. So were the bishops and priests who now criticize him.
6. Saramago doesn't need marketing campaigns to sell in Portugal - he never needed those in the past, he always sells, and he sells many more books in Brazil or Spain than in Portugal - why would he 'come here' (interesting to notice that these people criticising him don't even now that he actually lives in the country... do they?) to 'advertise' his books? that's just what he thinks, fullstop. I wonder why it provokes such scandal still.

ap2009-10-28 17:40:34
errata - 'don't even know'

Emanuel Paparella2009-10-28 20:47:05
Absolutely Ms. Pereira. Freedom of expression demands as much, and if you understood me to say otherwise, as your question implies, then you misunderstood me or you are placing words in my mouth. My only point however, which I am afraid was totally missed, was that to go around demythologizing God and the Old Testament and the New Testament to boot, claiming that “I simply lift the stones and show the reality hidden beneath them” is to confuse that operation for demystification and in the process create another myth, whether Mr. Saramago realizes it or not; namely the myth that it is the “enlightened” people’s task, mostly atheists and caricaturists of religion, to show that myths are falsehoods buttressing religion and and that we need atheists and caricaturists of religion to lift the stone and show us the reality hidden beneath them. Mr. Saramago willy nilly is caught in such a myth, for as Jung taught us, symbols and myths make man as much as man makes symbols and myths, it is part of the human condition and they are eliminated at the risk of ending up in a delusion wrapped in an illusion misguidedly believing that mere rationality devoid of the symbolical and the poetical and the creative process can defeat myths understood as mere falsehood.

ap2009-10-28 23:27:58
But Saramago's writing is anything but devoid of symbolical, poetical and creative. Maybe he's creating a myth by being himself, I don't know. Lifting stones and discovering hidden secrets is what every artist does, I cannot see why the scandal. Is the Bible untouchable as a source of inspiration? And then you criticize who declared the fatwa on Salman Rushdie... oh I know, those were wrong but these bishops and eurodeputies are right - perfectly unbiased judgement. After all, one was the Koran, the other is the Bible, ones were Iranians, the others are Europeans. Ones declare death fatwa, the others demand exile and change of nationality - which is an incredible appropriation of nationality by the Catholic faith!

ap2009-10-28 23:31:16
After that, who wouldn't want to be an atheist, even if he believed in God?

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