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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 30, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 18
Bolivian President not homophobic, spokesperson says
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Bolivian President not homophobic, spokesperson says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Bolivian government took the unusual step of denying that its president, Evo Morales, is homophobic in the wake of controversial remarks by Morales in which he seemed to say that eating chicken made men Gay.

The Bolivian government statement came in an April 26 letter to the LGBT Federation of Spain saying the government wished to "ratify" the Bolivian constitution's ban on discrimination against its LGBT citizens.

Announcing that the Morales administration had sent the letter, a Bolivian spokesperson added, "It has never crossed the president's mind, from any point of view, to attack the rights of homosexuals."

The formal statement of goodwill towards Bolivia's LGBT community became necessary after remarks Morales made to an environmental conference in Tiquipaya, Bolivia.

Speaking against the use of growth hormones and other food additives, Morales said, "The chicken we eat is full of feminine hormones. That's why, when men eat those chickens, they have deviations in their beings as men."

The remarks were reported by the Spanish news agency EFE, and then spread worldwide via blogs, Twitter, and YouTube.

An openly Gay member of the Spanish parliament, Pedro Zerolo, then led a contingent of LGBT leaders to the Bolivian Embassy in Madrid with a letter demanding an apology from Morales.

Morales spokesperson Iván Canelas said that the Bolivian government's letter had been sent as a response to Zerolo's "personal protest."

On his Twitter account, Zerolo wrote, "Protests give results. It seems that the president, Evo Morales, has sent us a message in which he 'ratifies' his respect to sexual identity...."

Beside Zerolo, 38 LGBT organizations which make up The TLGB Collective of Bolivia also sent a letter expressing their disappointment at Morales' statements. They said they were shocked that such a statement came from a president who they thought was friendly to their cause.

Morales was a strong supporter of a February 2009 amendment to the Bolivian constitution banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Claiming to be the first Bolivian president of purely indigenous descent, Morales has also spoken out against European industrial farming methods, including the use of hormones and pesticides.

EFE reported that in the same speech to the Tiquipaya environmental conference, Morales also claimed that chicken and beef treated with hormones were the cause for the premature development of breasts in some girls and premature hair-loss in men.

He added that Coca Cola is so full of chemicals that Bolivian plumbers who ran out of drain-cleaning solvents turned to Coca Cola as an alternative.

Morales was elected president in December 2005 and re-elected in 2009 with a 63% majority. Previously he was general secretary of the coca farmers' union, and as president he has resisted demands by the US government to ban coca farming.

Morales leads the Movement for Socialism and he maintains close relations with other Latin American leftist leaders, including Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Cuba's Castro brothers.

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