Hipólito Mejía, the President of the Dominican Republican from 2000 to 2004, has come under fire after a video emerged of him making anti-gay statements at an event earlier this month.
The event, intended to rally support for a return to the presidential post, took place in New Jersey. Dominicans overseas can vote during presidential elections, and El Diario estimates that Dominicans in America comprise about five percent of the electoral roll.
During the speech, Mejía made some controversial, hateful comments about the LGBT community while "joking" about his campaign handlers, who wanted him to wear a wig during appearances to improve poll numbers. "There are people who can change everything about you," he quipped. "Even the way you sit down." He added that his handlers tried to convince him to sit "the way a little faggot does." The room erupted in laughter.
According to Latino Rebels, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito issued a statement about the controversy.
"I am appalled that a former Dominican Republic president and a potential future presidential candidate has used a derogatory term that is offensive, inappropriate and hurtful toward LGBT people," she said. "President Mejia needs to apologize to the LGBT community in his country and here in New York, where he made this unacceptable statement. Leaders are called to unite people, not divide us. That includes who invited him here and stayed silent when discrimination occured and even worse, laughed at it. I stand with the LGBT community here, in the Dominican Republic and elsewhere, and I will not be silent when bigotry shows its ugly face."