LONDON, UK – Up to 11 teenage boys were surgically castrated “to get rid of homosexuality” while in the care of the Dutch Roman Catholic church during the 1950s, a newspaper investigation has said.
According to a report published at the weekend by the NRC Handelsblad newspaper, an 18-year-old man was castrated in 1956 after telling police he was being abused by priests at a Catholic boarding school, the BBC reports.
Henk Hethuis was told the procedure would “cure” him of his homosexuality. The same happened to at least 10 other pupils at the school, the newspaper says. Hethuis died in a car crash two years later.
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The barbarity of the individual cases has shocked the Dutch public, which is still reeling from the publication before Christmas of a report which found that more than 800 Catholic priests and monks abused as many as 20,000 children in their care between 1945 and 1985, according to The Irish Times.
The Deetman commission, which was established in 2010 to investigate clerical abuse and headed up by former cabinet minister Wim Deetman, reportedly uncovered the castrations, but did not include them in the 1,100-page report.
On Tuesday the Dutch parliament called for an investigation into the new allegations. A Catholic Church spokesman told Reuters that the church was willing to cooperate to find out whether the reports were true.
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Dutch Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten called the allegations “very serious and shocking,” and has promised to look into the role of the Dutch government at the time.
Further evidence emerged on Monday showing that government health inspectors were present at meetings when castrations at Catholic-run institutions were discussed, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Minutes of the meetings also reveal that the Catholic staff at the institutions felt entitled to take decisions without involving the boys’ parents, some of whom were never officially informed about the procedure, and many of whom only found after the operations had been carried out on their children.
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