Rodrigo Duterte, Philippine President, Says He Was Gay but ‘Cured’ Himself


President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines said at an event in Tokyo that he had “cured” himself of homosexuality with the help of “beautiful women.”

Mr. Duterte volunteered the remarks on Thursday at a speech to a Filipino crowd.

In the speech, part of which was provided to reporters afterward, he also appeared to try to insult Antonio Trillanes, a senator who is a prominent critic of Mr. Duterte’s antidrug crackdown, by saying the lawmaker is gay.

Mr. Trillanes, in a statement provided by his spokeswoman on Monday, said, “By admitting his gay past, I am beginning to be suspicious of the true nature of Duterte’s seeming obsession towards me.”

“It’s also entirely possible that his strongman projection is just a front,” Mr. Trillanes said. “Whatever, such comments by Duterte show how perverted and sick his mind is.”

In his three years as president, Mr. Duterte has developed a reputation for making controversial remarks, often casting them as jest. He has frequently invoked homosexuality as an insult, using it to describe Communist rebels, Catholic priests and the former United States ambassador to his country.

But Mr. Duterte has also expressed other views that have won him support from Filipino gay rights activists. Though he has opposed same-sex unions in the past, he now says he supports them.

He is also critical of the country’s powerful Roman Catholic Church, saying he was sexually abused by a priest as a teenager.

Homosexuality is not outlawed in the Philippines. But gay Filipinos have open relationships here, and while the Catholic Church disapproves of gay unions, there is a Christian sect that presides over same-sex marriages.

Some Filipino gay rights activists say they have gotten used to Mr. Duterte’s public outbursts.

“Duterte’s remarks are slippery like mercury,” said Danton Remoto, the head of Ladlad, a Filipino L.G.B.T. political party. “His opinion depends on the audience.”

But Rhadem Camlian Morados, a gay rights activist and filmmaker, said that this time, the president went too far.

“His gay joke was very counterproductive and demeaning,” Mr. Morados said, “as if there’s a need to ‘pray the gay away’ and that homosexuality is a disease that needs to be cured.”

The World Health Organization stopped classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder almost 30 years ago.

Mr. Duterte concluded the event in Tokyo by kissing several women from the audience on stage, a practice for which he was criticized last year.


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