Presented By
Bolivian President Evo Morales Ayma delivers a speech in Carapari, Tarija, Bolivia on Nov. 17, 2015

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales apologized Tuesday for calling his Health Minister a lesbian in an attempt at a joke.

“I don’t want to think you’re a lesbian,” he said to Ariana Campero, according to AFP, after he saw her speaking with another woman while he gave a speech.

Morales said in a statement that it was not his “intention to offend anyone.” The leftist leader has described himself as a “feminist” who tells “macho jokes.” He also tried to defend his comments by saying, “calling someone lesbian or gay is not an insult.”

But this is not the first time Morales has been accused of sexism or homophobia. He suggested in 2010 that men who ate chickens injected with female hormones would experience “deviances.” He also came under fire for laughing at lewd verses sung at a carnival celebration in 2012.

This is also not the first time 29-year-old Campero has been the victim of gratuitously offensive remarks. Vice President Alvaro Garcia told her to get married or risk becoming a single parent, AFP says, while former mayoral candidate Carlos Bru suggested she should work as a live-in maid and sexually service her employer.


More Must-Reads From TIME

Write to Mark Rivett-Carnac at

You May Also Like