Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday claimed he was once gay but “cured” himself in controversial remarks made during a trip to Japan, Filipino news publication Rappler reported.
During the speech, Duterte reportedly mocked his political opponent Senator Antonio Trillanes IV by saying his movements show he is homosexual.
“Good thing Trillanes and I are similar. But I cured myself,” he said.
Duterte also reportedly “confessed” that he was gay before he met his ex-wife Elizabeth Zimmerman.
“When I began a relationship with Zimmerman, I said, this is it. I became a man again.”
“Duterte is gay. So I am gay, I don’t care if I’m gay or not,” he said as he wrapped up his remarks.
As Newsweek notes:
Duterte, whose ruling PDP-Laban party made large gains in May’s elections, has flip-flopped on LGBT rights. Prior to his election as president in 2016, Duterte pledged the introduce same-sex marriage to the Catholic country. But he later switched to favoring same-sex “unions” instead.
“Same-sex marriage is good. Everyone deserves to be happy,” Duterte told his country’s popular talk show Vice Ganda back in 2015.
But two years after his election, Duterte delivered a speech criticizing transgenderism in the U.S.: “There is no gender because you can be a he or she…That’s their culture. It does not apply to us,” BBC News reported.
“We are Catholics and there is the Civil Code, which says that you can only marry a woman for me… a woman to marry a man. That’s our law so why would you accept that gender?”
In January, Duterte criticized gay Catholic bishops and child molestation.
“Only I can say it, bishops are sons of bitches, damn you. It’s true, most of them are gay,” Duterte said at a ceremony for the groundbreaking of a new high school in January. “They should come out in the open, cancel the celibacy and allow them to have boyfriends.”
Rachel Chhoa-Howard, a researcher for human rights organization Amnesty International, told Newsweek that Duterte’s latest remarks about homosexuality “are just another attempt to disparage his strongest critics and distract from the concerns they have repeatedly raised about his government, including ongoing violations in the so-called ‘war on drugs’ and the deteriorating human rights situation in the country more generally.”
She added: “Rather than resorting to derogatory statements, the president should own up to and end the crimes his government is responsible for once and for all.”