Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (image via Flickr/Prachatai)
Rodrigo Duterte, the controversial president of the Philippines, joked during a trip to Japan that he had once been gay but ‘cured’ himself upon meeting his ex-wife.
Duterte was in Tokyo for bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and during a public appearance he mocked a political opponent, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, for moving like a gay person.
Rappler, a Filipino newspaper, reports that Duterte was asked about Trillanes sexuality and he replied, “Ask any gay man and see that moving, they say that’s gay.”
“Good thing Trillanes and I are similar, but I cured myself,” he added. “When I began a relationship with Zimmerman, I said, this is it. I became a man again.”
Elizabeth Zimmerman was married to the Filipino leader for 25 years before filing for an annulment in 1998. She told the courts at the time that Duterte was a “womanizer.”
Admitting he once believed he was gay is an odd confession coming from Duterte who has had wildly inconsistent positions when it comes to the LGBTQ community.
Before being elected president in 2016, he expressed support for same-sex marriage.
During an appearance on the Vice Ganda talk show in 2015, he said, “Same-sex marriage is good. Everyone deserves to be happy.”
But he later flip-flopped on the issue saying he preferred same-sex unions instead.
He once asked the head of the country’s Commission on Human Rights if he was a gay pedophile because he was concerned about young boys being killed in the war on drugs.
More recently, before the recent elections in the Philippines, the 74-year-old president called out former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay who was running to be a Senator.
During a campaign rally, Duterte told the crowd, “Hilbay’s girlfriend is Agot Isidro. Her boyfriend is gay.”
He continued mocking Hilbay saying that as Solicitor General he had “filled his office with homosexuals.”
In 2017, the Filipino president mocked the idea of transgender people in the U.S. saying during a speech, “There is no gender because you can be a he or she.”
“That’s their culture,” he added according to the BBC. “It does not apply to us.”
Duterte is most well known for not only encouraging but overseeing the killing of thousands in his brutally violent war on drugs.