- Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte claimed he cured himself of being gay when he met his first wife.
- He told an audience last Thursday that “beautiful women cured me,” then asked five young women to go on stage to kiss him on the cheek.
- Duterte made the comments when he accused political rival, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, of being gay.
- The president has a history of calling opponents by homophobic slurs.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Rodrigo Duterte, the strongman president of the Philippines, claimed he used to be gay but that “beautiful women cured me,” according to CNN.
Duterte’s comments came as he accused Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a vocal critic of the president’s administration, of being gay at a speech to the Filipino community in Tokyo last Thursday.
Duterte told the audience in Tagalog that a gay person told him that the way Trillanes moves gave away that he was gay, Philippines news site Rappler reported.
“Good thing Trillanes and I are similar. But I cured myself,” he said, according to Rappler. “When I began a relationship with Zimmerman, I said, this is it. I became a man again.” Zimmerman refers to Duterte’s first wife, Elizabeth Zimmerman, to whom he was married from 1973 to 2000.
“So, beautiful women cured me. I hated handsome men afterwards. I now prefer beautiful women,” he said, according to CNN.
The Philippines is 86% Roman Catholic, and many Filipinos hold conservative values.
Duterte later invited five young women on stage to kiss him on the cheek one by one as his current partner Honeylet Avanceña watched, CNN Philippines reported.
He said, according to CNN Philippines: “First, you shouldn’t be married, ok? Second, you’re not a minor. You, ma’am, you want a smooch?”
Female audience members kiss President Rodrigo Duterte on the cheek after some taunting from both Duterte and the audience.
A similar incident happened in June 2018, where Duterte kissed an OFW on the lips. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/ozyfpdQV77
— CNN Philippines (@cnnphilippines) May 30, 2019
This is not the first time the Philippines leader targeted the LGBT community.
He called the US ambassador to his country a “gay son of of a b****” in 2016, and often uses homophobic slurs to attack political rivals, Rappler reported.
In 2017, he said it would be unacceptable for the Philippines to recognise the same-sex union, CNN reported. But he flip flopped later that year, telling a LGBT conference: “There will be no oppression and we will recognise your importance in society.”
The president also has a history of sexist remarks and stunts.
Last year, he caused controversy when he kissed a Filipino overseas worker on her lips during an event in Seoul, Korea.
He has also said that there will always be rape cases in places with “many beautiful women,” and blamed it on the fact that women reject the first advance.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.