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Gay kiss leads to arrest at religious rally

A same-sex kiss at an evangelical rally in Brazil has stirred up a heated debate over gay rights and freedom of religion in a country heavily influenced by the Catholic Church.

According to Public Radio International, two women attending a "gospel festival" were arrested after kissing each other at the event near the city of Sao Paolo last week.

The kissed caused Brazilian congressman Pastor Marco Feliciano to stop his speech to the approximately 70,000 in attendance and condemn the women. 

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PRI.org reports that Feliciano, who is also the president of the nation's House Commission for Human Rights & Minorities, ordered police to immediately arrest the pair, “Those two girls have to leave here handcuffed. No use trying to run, guards are headed there now. This here isn't palace where anything goes, it’s the house of God.”

The women, age 18 and 20, were taken out of the gathering and jailed at the town of São Sebastião's police station.

Defenders of the pastor and law enforcement's actions say the women violated other attendees freedom of religion, saying the two had disturbed a ceremony of religious worship.

In Brazil, that is punishable by up to one year and one month in prison.

The women say they were roughed up during their arrest and had the right to kiss, just as other heterosexual couples at the event had been doing.

They also claim the event was being paid for by taxpayers' money so they had the right to attend and were protected by their right to freedom of expression.

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