Anti-gay remarks cause suspension of presidential candidate in Ecuador

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An Ecuadorean preacher and candidate in the country’s presidential campaign last month has been fined and had his political rights suspended for a year following anti-gay comments he made during the election. Evangelical preacher Nelson Zavala, who finished last of eight candidates in the race with just over 1% of the popular vote, was forced by a court to pay more than $3,000 in fines.

Zavala was sentenced by an electoral court, having claimed that gays were “immoral” and suffered from “severe deviation of conduct” during February’s campaign. The decision restricts Zavala from associating himself or being active with a political party or movement and also bars him from standing as a candidate.

BBC News reported that Judge Patricia Baca Mancheno found that Mr. Zavala violated the electoral code, which “forbids candidates of publicly expressing any thoughts that discriminate or affect other people’s dignity or utilize symbols, expressions or allusions of a religious nature.”

The Pastor has sparked controversy in recent years as a proponent of conversion therapy for homosexuality. He has said that the process for ‘curing’ gay people was a rigorous one, generally needing to last more than two years to complete. 

In 2012 the Ecuadorean Government moved to close many gay treatment clinics, which were believed to be widespread in the country. Despite the existence of these centers and the lack of equal marriage in Ecuador, the LGBT community benefits from some protections. Citizens have the right to legally amend their gender while same-sex couples in long-term relationships are allowed to enjoy the same rights as those formally married, under the Constitution.

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