President Rodrigo Duterte implied during a speech on Thursday, May 30, in Japan, that being gay is a disease that needs curing.
It began with Duterte poking fun at his archcritic Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. He said someone gay had told him that based on the senator's movements, Trillanes is gay. Earlier in his speech, Duterte had "confessed" that he too used to be gay.
"Sabi ko, 'Totoo ka?' Sabi niya, 'Magtanong ka kahit sinong bakla at makita 'yan gumalaw, sabihin niyan bakla talaga.' Kaya pala. Mabuti na lang pareho kami ni Trillanes. Pero nagamot ko ang sarili ko," Duterte said.
(I said, "Are you sure?" They said, "You ask any gay person who sees Trillanes move, they'll say he's gay." No wonder. Good thing Trillanes and I are similar. But I cured myself.)
Duterte continued: "Noong kami na ni Zimmerman, sabi ko, ito na. Naging lalaki ako ulit. (When I began a relationship with Zimmerman, I said, this is it. I became a man again)."
He was referring to his former wife, Elizabeth Zimmerman.
Both the World Health Organization and American Psychiatric Association no longer classify homosexuality as a disease or mental disorder. It is now recognized as a legitimate sexual orientation.
Duterte has previously cracked jokes that he used to be gay and that Trillanes was gay too.
The President wrapped up his remarks on gays by saying he has no problem if he is a homosexual.
"Bakla nga si Duterte. Eh 'di bakla, wala akong ano diyan kung bakla ako o hindi (Duterte is gay. So I am gay, I don't care if I'm gay or not)," he said.
During his presidential campaign, Duterte had initially appeared to have liberal views on homosexuality, saying the Bible should have recognized gays, aside from the heterosexual genders.
But as president, Duterte has been inconsistent on his views on same-sex marriage, a key issue for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community in the Philippines.
Duterte has also often used terms like "bakla" and "bayot," words that mean gay, as insults to his political enemies. He has used those words to imply weakness in critics like Trillanes and former presidential candidate Mar Roxas. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.