ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay — Tobacco magnate Horacio Cartes, Paraguay’s leading presidential candidate, has come under fire for comments he made comparing gay people to “monkeys” and threatening to remove his genitals if his son married another man.
Mr. Cartes, 57, theatrically threatened to inflict harm on his own private parts if his 28-year-old son were to seek to marry another man.
“I would shoot myself in the testicles, because I do not agree,” he said, using slightly more colorful language to describe how he would react to such a possibility.
The issue of marriage equality has gained prominence in Paraguay after legislators in nearby Uruguay voted this month to legalize same-sex marriage, making Uruguay the second country in South America to do so after Argentina.
Somos Gay, a Paraguayan gay rights group, issued a statement calling Cartes’s comments on same-sex marriage “cruel” and pressing him to apologize publicly.
Article continues below“The Colorado Party claims to protect the Paraguayan family, claiming that if lesbians and gays become visible in our society, the traditional family will disappear,” said Sergio López, a director of the group. “But in fact, they are ignoring reality since that traditional family is no longer the norm.”
The comments come as Cartes has also been hit with charges of money laundering and smuggling contraband Paraguayan-made cigarettes into neighboring Brazil.
While he still maintains a lead in the polls, recent data shows Cartes’ numbers slipping in advance of Sunday’s vote. He has no issued an apology for his anti-gay remarks.