Horacio Cartes
Paraguay Presidential Candidate's Antigay Remarks Shock Nation

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com April 17 2013 6:21 PM ET

The front-runner in Paraguay’s presidential race is drawing criticism for some outrageous comments about gay people, saying among other things that he would shoot himself in the genitals if his son wanted to marry a man.

“I would shoot myself in the testicles, because I do not agree,” Horacio Cartes said in a radio interview this month, reports The New York Times, which adds that he actually employed “slightly more colorful language.”

Cartes, the candidate of the Colorado Party, also has made statements “comparing gay people to ‘monkeys’ and likening the support of same-sex marriage to believing in ‘the end of the world,’” the Times reports.

Both Cartes and Liberal Party candidate Efraín Alegre, his chief opponent and currently a senator, have fairly conservative economic views, but they differ on gay rights. Alegre has voiced opposition to marriage equality but this week said he is open to further discussion on the matter, adding that Cartes’s stance represents “the Paraguay of the past.” Marriage equality is advancing in South America; it has been enacted in Argentina, and lawmakers in Uruguay recently approved marriage equality legislation that is expected to be signed by the nation’s president.

Cartes, who has made a fortune in the tobacco industry, has been leading Alegre in polls but could be in trouble not only for his antigay comments but because of accusations that he has engaged in money-laundering and profited from the smuggling of cigarettes to Brazil. Last year Paraguay’s Senate ousted President Fernando Lugo; Vice President Federico Franco succeeded him but is serving only until a new president is elected. The vote will take place Sunday.