It would be hard to find a national leader whose leftist credentials have been more brightly burnished than Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s president since 2007. He allied himself with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, threatened to renege on the national debt, bashed American oil companies, gave Wikileaks leader Julian Assange asylum in Ecuador’s embassy in London, expelled an American ambassador, and denounced the pro-privatization, free-market "Washington Consensus”.
But, while calling himself a strong defender of gay rights, he has adamantly refused to back same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption, and redefining “sex” as “gender”.
His populist economics and his hostility towards the United States do not mean that he is wedded to politically correct views on gender fluidity, homosexuality or the nature of marriage. In 2008 he revised the constitution. This gave Correa sweeping new powers to implement a "citizens' revolution" -- but it also defined marriage as “the union of a man and a woman”. Absolutely nothing has shifted him from this stand, despite enormous pressure from gay and lesbian activists. In fact, the President's views have hardened.
On December 28 he gave a vigorous exposition of his views on his regular TV spot:
Have you heard about what they call “gender ideology”? Something that is taught at some schools and which some of our assembly members support… what is not right is for them to try to impose their beliefs on all of us.
Basically they say there is no such thing as a man and a woman in nature. In other words, someone’s biological gender does not determine whether you are a man or a woman. Instead it’s the social environment. So one has the right – the “freedom” – to choose whether one is a man or a woman. Please! That doesn’t withstand the least scrutiny! It’s a barbaric notion that threatens everything – the natural order – everything….
There are people who make this argument – and we greatly respect their point of view – but don’t try to impose it on others. And don’t impose it on children because there are people who are teaching this to our youth and what I can tell you from an academic perspective is that these are barbaric notions that do not withstand the least scrutiny. So we are falling into extremism…..
You’ll see that what I’m saying will get me branded as being backwards, a Neanderthal, not the vanguard of civilised thought. Go elsewhere with those notions! In other words, we all fight for equal rights between men and women but those fundamentalist feminist movements are quite something else. They want men and women to be exactly the same and I insist that this ideology is extremely dangerous. And it is being taught to some of our youth in some schools…..
These are not theories. They are purely and simply ideologies which many times serve to justify the lifestyle of those who generate those ideologies. And we respect them as persons but we absolutely do not share those barbarities… they destroy the basis of society which continues to be the traditional family..
You’ll say that I am conservative, that I’m no longer a leftist -- because that’s the other new thing they say. If you do not back these things you are not a leftist. If you are not pro-abortion you are not a leftist. In other words if [Chilean dictator] Pinochet had been pro-abortion he would have been a leftist. If [Cuban revolutionary leader] Che Guevara had been anti-abortion he would have been right-wing. That has nothing to do with left or right. They are barbarities. A novelty. These are moral issues.
What makes his stand even more impressive is the aplomb with which he defends his position. There are no apologies, no shifty evasions, no carefully crafted escape clauses. The answer to same-sex marriage is N.O. spells No. Here he is on national TV in May being interrogated by a hostile panel:
I have also said that I am economically and socially progressive but very conservative when it comes to moral issues. And it’s not that I intend to impose my principles and personal values on the rest of the country – even if I’m entirely in my right to do so. I never hid [my values] and people voted for me. They vote for the person, his beliefs, etc..
But … I think we spend our capital on issues that, if we have a thousand priorities, they’d come in at 1001. In other words, there are too many urgent things in this country to waste our energies on this debate..
Second, I do think that the family is a fundamental part of society. Perhaps the strategy is to replace the word “sex” for “gender identity” and since “gender identity” means being a woman that would mean “a man and a woman” which is not unconstitutional. And then we would have gay marriage. But I have said it clearly: I am not in favour of it…
At this point, a panellist interjects, “Aren’t you going against the worldwide trend? Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, the United States, Spain…?” But a man who regularly gives the US government raspberries is not going to lose sleep over taking the road less travelled by. He responds:
And if we are talking about trends, then let’s give away drugs and everything else. OK, perhaps that’s a hurtful comparison because one is illegal and the other is not… I greatly admire certain fighters for this cause. I just wanted to say that one shouldn’t let trends carry you. One has to let principles, values and beliefs lead the way...
I have great respect for people, regardless of their sexual preference. I admire a lot of these fighters in a macho society. I believe our government – and in my cabinet there are people from LGBTI groups – we have rescued a lot of respect towards these groups. But I don’t believe in gay marriage.
Thanks to the blog Blabbeando for translations of the YouTube clips.
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