Since replacing the late Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s interim president Nicolas Maduro has taken to the airwaves to deny being anti-gay—despite a series a series of public speeches in which he smeared his opposition with homophobic slurs.
“When you live in a town you have to be respectful of the private lives of all human beings,” Maduro said in a interview last week. “And in terms of sexuality—what today is known as the concept of the sexually diverse — they are the same friends we have known all of our lives, male and female, from the time we were kids. Because we have always respected them.”
That’s a far cry from the language he used the other week, when he referred to opposition leader Henrique Capriles as a “little princess” and suggested Capriles was visiting New York to be with a gay lover: “I don’t want to get involved in his personal life, but he’s in Manhattan with a [male] friend of confidence,” Maduro told followers at a rally.
It wasn’t his first anti-gay dig: Last April Maduro appeared at a rally in Caracas, where he called opponents of Chavez mariconzones (“big faggots”).
Even in this recent address denouncing homophobia, Maduro took another dig at Capriles’ sexuality:
The worst homophobe is one who is gay and discriminates against his own. It’s similar to a foreman in a slave-owner’s farm. A black traitor who whips an African man’s back. That’s the worst homophobe: He who denies his identity and discriminates against his equals.
Capriles has been clear in his distaste for Maduro’s tactics, for maligning both him and the LGBT community: “I believe in a society without exclusion and that’s the way I express it to the country,” said the 40-year-old center-right politician. “A society where no one feels excluded based on the way they think, their race, their creed, their sexual orientation. “
It seems that now that Maduro is trying to be an official head of state, the former firebrand is trying to rewrite history. When asked what he’d do if he was gay, Maduro exclaimed: “I’d take ownership of it with pride and shout it to the four winds—I would have no problem loving whoever I had to love with my heart.”