Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte jokingly suggested during a speech Thursday that he used to be gay but that he somehow managed to cure himself of his alleged affliction.
The stunning remarks were made after the free-wheeling president gave cheek-to-cheek kisses to five women in the crowd. All this happened in front of his longtime partner, Honeylet Avanceña.
Watch some of the kissing action below:
According the Philippines news agency Rappler, during his speech Duterte started making fun of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, one of his most vocal critics. He specifically claimed that someone he knows who’s gay had told him that Trillanes’ body movements indicate that the senator’s a homosexual.
“I said, ‘Are you sure?'” the president said, recalling the discussion with the unnamed gay person. “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.”
“When I began a relationship with Zimmerman,” he continued, referencing his ex-wife, Elizabeth Zimmerman, “I said, this is it. I became a man again.”
It’s believed Duterte had been goshing around.
“Duterte has previously cracked jokes that he used to be gay and that Trillanes was gay too,” Rappler notes.
Last year, for instance, he brought a female audience member onto the stage with him at a speech and then publicly kissed her — very gently, mind you — in front of a roaring crowd of supporters.
He also asked the woman whether she was single.
When she revealed that no, she’s married, the funnyman president replied, “You’re not separated from him? But can you tell him that this is just a joke?”
Watch, and listen to the crowd:
The audience loved it. As it stands, Duterte boasts some of the highest approval ratings of a president. As of April, his approval rating was at 66 percent, much to the chagrin of the global left-wing media, which has been campaigning against him since his rise to power.
According to the media, the Philippines president is a homophobic bigot, a racist xenophobe and a veritable dictator. Never mind that he was duly elected to office by his own people.
“Rodrigo Duterte was elected president of the Philippines in 2016 by a landslide win on the back of hardline promises to tackle crime and corruption,” a recent profile of him by the BBC reads.
“He has since attracted intense controversy for a bloody drug war and a string of controversial remarks deemed offensive or sexist by many observers. He has also been criticised by the international community and rights groups that say his policies amount to human rights abuses.”
Yet midterm elections earlier this month made it clear that the majority of Duterte’s constituents support his policies, including his deadly war against drug dealers.
They also appear to support his views on homosexuality. While he’s see-sawed back and forth between supporting gay marriage and opposing it, he did promise during his election in 2016 to legalize gay marriage. He’s since repeatedly vowed that he’d legalize it if a bill were ever brought to him.
“I want same-sex marriage. The problem is, we’ll have to change the law, but we can change the law,” he said in late 2017.
As of May 2019, the Philippines Congress had yet to bring a gay marriage bill to his desk.
Despite his support for gay marriage, Duterte is frequently portrayed as a homophobic bigot by the media because of his allegedly homophobic jokes.
Take the joke he made about curing himself. The media has chosen to portray that joke as him suggesting that homosexuality is a disease:
By Saturday, this narrative had already spread to every corner of Twitter:
FYI Homosexuality is not a disease, it’s not something you acquire and be cured or healed from! These types of jokes are not funny at all, they are dangerous to say the least. Huwag tularan! Happy Pride Month! ? #FreeLovePH #FuelTheLove #ResistTogether https://t.co/GDJUurs2A8
— Niccolo Cosme (@niccolocosme) June 1, 2019
I have been seeing news about Duterte calling homosexuality as a disease. SUCH HYPOCRISY! Way back 2015 on Gandang Gabi Vice, he told everyone that “all humans are created by God, respeto lang,” regarding homosexuality.
Such a poser. Shame!!https://t.co/tZ2gtfq6K1
— Kin (@nikkitamura) May 31, 2019
Shame on those people who laughed on Duterte’s statement that he was gay before and was cured when she started going out with Zimmerman. Homosexuality is not a type of disease that needs cure! Nakakasuka kayong mga tawang-tawa na naman sa “biro” ni Duterte!
— Phoebe ? (@prinsescons) June 1, 2019
Homosexuality is not a disease and therefore not something to “cure.” https://t.co/3IunFkzdkt
— John FitzGerald (@TheTweetOfJohn) May 31, 2019
— Vince ?️? (@vinceliban) May 31, 2019
According to Duterte, he was once gay but his homosexuality has been cured. Let me remind the President that homosexuality is not a disease!
— Nestor Castro (@NestorCastro) May 31, 2019
Suppressing your true nature and associated feelings can cause psychiatric disorders. Alcoholism, and bad aggression regulation, for example. Pathologically lying also. #Duterte ? #homosexuality #is #no #disease #or #disorder https://t.co/wOFn1CcYkg
— Henk Molenaars (@NEXITIUS) June 1, 2019
This is no different than the fake news about Trump that the American mainstream media routinely disseminate to the masses. Were one to believe the lies told about Trump, they’d think he’s a racist, a white supremacist, a neo-Nazi, a this, a that and the other.
Yet as his own supporters will tell you, he’s just a free-wheeling, fun guy with a large sense of humor.