Politics as usual in Paraguay?

A tobacco magnate and Paraguay’s leading presidential candidate is currently embroiled in a ferocious controversy over comments he made comparing gay people to “monkeys” and threatening to remove his private parts if his son married another man.

During a recent radio interview, Horacio Cartes, the 57-year old leading candidate for Paraguay’s right-wing Colorado Party, compared the support of same-sex marriage to believing in “the end of the world” and threatened to become a eunuch if his 28-year old son wanted to marry another man.

“I would shoot myself in the testicles, because I do not agree,” he said, according to The New York Times. The Times reported that Cartes used slightly more profane language to describe the act.

The comments come as Cartes has also been hit with charges of money laundering and smuggling contraband Paraguayan-made cigarettes into neighboring Brazil.

While he still maintains a lead in the polls, recent data shows Cartes’ numbers slipping in the run-up to Sunday’s vote. Cartes will face Liberal party candidate Efraín Alegre, who while sharing a conservative, business-oriented mentality, his stance on gay rights is deemed more open and nuanced.

“This is something that needs to be discussed in society,” Alegre said of Cartes’ comments. He added that Cartes’ feeling represented the “Paraguay of the past.”

The Paraguayan gay rights groups Somos Gay issued a statement condemning the comments as “cruel” and asked Cartes to make a formal apology.

“The Colorado Party claims to protect the Paraguayan family, claiming that if lesbians and gays become visible in our society, the traditional family will disappear,” said Sergio López, a director of the group, according to The New York Times. “But in fact, they are ignoring reality since that traditional family is no longer the norm.”

Paraguay sits in a region that has made swift advancements in gay rights, with both Argentina and Uruguay recently legalizing gay marriage.

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