Taiwanese legislators have grilled their new diplomat to the United States not over his credentials but because of his perceived sexual orientation and rumours of a relationship with Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou.

Appearing in front of Taiwan’s Foreign Affairs and National Defence Committee last Wednesday King Pu-tsung was asked to “clarify the matter” by Chinese National Party legislator Liao Cheng-ching.

The Taipei Times reported King said he respected everyone regardless of their sexual orientation, adding: “I am not [gay].”

King later said that he thought it was “unfair” that many claimed his new position was a result of sexual relationships, including one with Taiwan’s president, which he adamantly denies.

The 56-year-old said he found the insinuation to be insulting to gay people.

Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Pasuya Yao said he cared less about the alleged presidential affair and more about the president’s sexual orientation, to which King replied: “It’s not a question I should answer.”

King assumed his new position earlier this month in Washington but critics say he isn’t qualified to work with the US State Department.

During the summer, King stated he is not – in his words – “brokeback.”

The diplomat was referring to Brokeback Mountain, the 2005 film that tells a tragic love story between two cowboys, directed by Taiwanese director Ang Lee.