Panama accepts resignation of cross-dressing diplomat
Panama's government on Tuesday accepted the resignation of a diplomat who caused a stir by wearing a lace dress with a banana in his bustline for carnival in Spain.
Italo Afu, Panama's consul in the Spanish Canary Islands, had apologized profusely, saying he did not want "to harm anyone, much less my country."
Afu "had the courage to place the interests of the state and the country's image before his own," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that Afu had "made a mistake."
Photos of Afu celebrating carnival in a pink dress, earrings and the banana were published in Panama's media and created a scandal in this socially conservative country whose population is 95 percent Christian.
Even President Ricardo Martinelli chimed in: "He should not have done it."
But gay rights activist Ricardo Beteta said the episode shows the "intolerance and homophobia of Panamanian society."
"In this country, being a thief, liar or swindler has no consequences but being a transvestite, gay or lesbian ... is intolerable," he told AFP.
Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Varela asked Monday: "Couldn't he have dressed up like a pirate -- or a sailor -- or even Donald Duck?"
© 2011 AFP