Ecuadorian President Apologizes to Gay Community in Re-election Speech

presidentcTrue to his word, Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s newly re-elected President, apologized to the LGBT community for using homophobic language a second time during his victory speech.

It all started last year, July 28th, when Correa read a reader’s comment on El Commercio’s Facebook page repeatedly calling the president a fag: “The fag thought that faggotry was part of the Olympic games and thought he could bring a gold medal in homosexuality – which is his strength… Degenerate fag.” (As you can tell, this reader was quite articulate.)

Correa later responded to the comment in kind: “If anyone knows this gentleman let me know. And I’ll invite him and only him to tell me these vicious things face to face. To see who’s the real fag.”

As you can imagine, responding to homophobia with more homophobia doesn’t play well or foster productive conversation. Local GLBT organisations signed and sent him an open letter, and on August 4th Correa wrote his first apology and promised if re-elected he would apologize again.

“And because you know there will be bad faith journalists who’ll argue I am doing this because the election season is near, ladies and gentlemen, if I decide to run and the Ecuadorean people give me the privilege of winning the election with their vote, the next day after winning the election I will reaffirm this apology. I am extremely sorry if I overreached, I sincerely am sorry if I offended you. I do not deny that I harbor prejudice and stigma inside of me because we have all grown up in this society.”

Just like he promised, Correa said a heartfelt apology on national television during his 40 minute victory speech.

A few months ago I used a number of inappropriate words that were offensive to LGBT groups and for which I apologized in writing – and I stated I would apologize again after winning [the election] to make sure they knew I wasn’t doing it simply for political gain.

Once again I’d like to express my apologies to those LGBT groups for some words that might have escaped me. Each one of us was born and grew up with stereotypes and stigmas and we have to fight against this type of – let’s call it deformed – social upbringing, etcetera. But our commitment is to defend everyone’s dignity and equality. We are diverse but never unequal.

And I was reminded of this by the leader of a GLBT group who I greatly admire a couple of days ago. You need a lot of courage to lead these type of movements. Let’s offer them all our support and – on a personal basis – I offer my full respect and the effort and commitment to eliminate all types of discrimination in this country.

Now that is an apology I can believe. Thank you, Mr. President.

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