President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has smeared the sexuality of opposition candidates.
The far-right leader took aim at former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, who is running in the May 13 midterm elections as a senatorial candidate for the Otso Diretso opposition coalition.
According to the Manila Bulletin newspaper, Duterte hit out at him during a campaign event.
Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte smears rivals as ‘gay’ ahead of elections
He said: “This son of a b***h Hilbay. He did nothing when he was solicitor general. He filled his office with homosexuals.”
“He acts like a man and pretends that [actress] Agot is his girlfriend. Be true to yourself. You’re gay. Don’t hide behind a cover.
“You were made by God. God made a mistake. Just because he’s a God does not mean he is incapable of making mistakes.”
The leader, known for his bizarre outbursts, added: “To the gays: don’t get angry with me. I was once gay. It’s true.”
He also smeared two other opposition candidates, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and human rights lawyer Chel Diokno.
Addressing Trillanes, he said: “Is Trillanes a man or a woman? You don’t want to believe? Ask your gay friends. I challenge you.”
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Of Diokno, Duterte added: “You don’t know if he’s a woman or a man.”
Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has anti-LGBT record
The Philippines is one of the most LGBT-friendly countries in Asia, with a 2014 poll finding that 73 percent of Filipinos believe homosexuality should be accepted.
However, Duterte is notorious for making outlandish comments about LGBT+ people.
In 2017, he claimed that criminals are beyond help because prisons turn people gay.
He said: “[Convicts] are already monsters in the sense that they are incapable of establishing a relationship with a woman.
“They develop aberration of the mind. They do not want to get out of prison because they get free food there…and they have lovers, they want to return to prison [to be] with their lovers.”
In 2016, then-US President Barack Obama cancelled a meeting with Duterte after he made homophobic comments about US Ambassador Philip Goldberg.
Duterte had said: “I had an argument with their gay ambassador, the son of a whore. He p***ed me off.”