The president of Belarus has responded to German criticisms of his government’s human rights record and accusations of a dictatorship in the land-locked European state by saying it is ‘better to be a dictator than gay’.

Alexander Lukashenko has been described as the “last dictator in Europe” before but his latest comment comes after Germany’s gay Foreign Minister criticised his eighteen-year rule and recalled the German ambassador from Minsk.

Guido Westerwelle is Germany’s first openly gay foreign minister and was the country’s Vice Chancellor from 2009 to 2011.

After criticising Lukashenko’s human rights record, the Belarusian leader hit back at his sexuality, telling local news agency Belta: “At the forefront there are two types of politicians [...] one lives in Warsaw, another in Berlin.”

“Whoever was shouting about dictatorship there [...] when I heard that, I thought: it’s better to be a dictator than gay.”

Under Lukashenko’s direction, Belarus has revoked term limits for its presidents. He won 80% of the vote in the widely criticised 2010 elections.

Homosexuality was decriminalised in 1994 but there are little protections for gays in terms of partnerships and discrimination law or hate crimes.

Lukashenko said last year he did not “like gays”.