A member of Ecuador’s National Assembly has caused outrage throughout the gay community by comparing homosexuality to paedophilia and bestiality.

Rosanna Queirolo, a former model, television news anchor and triathlon athlete, won election on a manifesto of environmental protection and maintaining links with the country’s large expatriate community, most of whom are in the US.

However, since joining the Assembly she has caused controversy by embracing the country’s ultra-conservative Christian Evangelical movement and campaigning against constitutional protection for homosexuals.

In 1998 Ecuador became the first country in the Americas to adopt constitutional language granting protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

On 22nd March Querilo stunned legislators, including some members from own party, when she stood up at a public hearing and asked the Constitutional Assembly to consider changing parts of the constitution referring to “sexual orientation”.

She claimed the word “orientation” should be changed to “preference” as in her interpretation, orientation could also be applied to “paedophiles and other degenerates.”

Despite unanimous outrage from the gay community, as well as a barrage of emails criticising her attack on a vulnerable community, Querilo expanded on her comments in the press.

On March 25th, she commented to the El Universo newspaper: “The best thing would be to remove the words ‘sexual orientation’ and to include ‘sexual preference’. The word ‘orientation’ leaves the door open to paedophiles, to bestiality.

“Sexual orientation can include not only homosexual, bisexual and transsexual groups but also paedophile organisations.

“God created us to procreate and the only way to procreate is through the union between a man and a woman. Any human invention cannot fit within a constitution.”

She also added that God should be named in the Constitution as the “ruler of mankind.”

Evangelical groups have rallied in support of Querilo’s comments, announcing that they were on their way to gathering two million signatures demanding that God’s name be included in the constitution, that abortion should be penalised and that same-sex marriages should be banned.

However, members of her own party are disturbed by Queirolo’s views and internal calls have been made for an official condemnation of her statements.

Members of the PAIS party are said to be drafting a statement unequivocally stating that same sex marriage, abortion and the invocation of the name of God are not constitutional matters and will not be considered in the new constitution.

Assembly member Tania Hermidia, also from PAIS told El Universo that the proposals for a change in constitution “reveal a profound ignorance in what concerns human rights”.

Fernando Cordero, Vice President of the Assembly added: “Those who promote this debate seek to tarnish the name of the Assembly, to divide Assembly members and the Ecuadorian people”