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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 May, 2004, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
Chilean fired for condom hand-out
By Clinton Porteous
BBC News, Santiago

Condoms
The government reacted swiftly over the distribution of condoms
The public affairs chief of Chile's HIV/Aids unit has been sacked by the centre-left government after condoms were given away in a state newspaper.

Chile's health minister said the condom distribution and accompanying articles, with a government insignia, had not been authorised.

The condom giveaway has outraged the conservative opposition.

The incident happened just days after the signing of a new law giving Chileans the right to get divorced.

The unit responsible for HIV/Aids awareness failed to follow health ministry policy, according to Chilean Health Minister Pedro Garcia.

He said that while the government advocated the use of condoms it did not support their distribution via the mass media - in this case the state-owned La Nacion newspaper.

Highly-charged

Many believe the new marriage law giving Chileans access to divorce could be the start of major social change in Chile.

There has been relatively little social development in Chile in recent decades and this is often attributed to the 17-year military government of Augusto Pinochet and the influence of the Catholic Church.

The Church was strongly opposed to the introduction of a divorce law but the measure had overwhelming public support - even though 75% of Chileans call themselves Catholic.

The Church is also opposed to the use of contraceptives and is fighting a government plan to allow rape victims access to the morning-after pill.

While there is a climate of social change in Chile, the atmosphere is highly-charged, and the government has reacted swiftly to this incident of condoms being distributed without authorisation.




SEE ALSO:
Chile Congress backs divorce law
11 Mar 04  |  Americas
Till the divorce law becomes legal
06 Oct 03  |  Americas
Chilean TV snubs anti-divorce ads
30 Sep 03  |  Americas
Church slams Chile divorce plans
19 Sep 03  |  Americas


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