Homophobic Remarks Get Ecuador Preacher a Political Ban & Fine
An evangelical preacher from Ecuador who ran for president earlier this year has been banned from politics and fined $3,000 after he was found guilty for breaking the South American country's electoral code for saying homosexuality is "immoral," Christian News reports.
A judge recently ruled that Nelson Zavala cannot run for office or be involved in any political party for one year and must pay more than $3,000 for an anti-gay speech he gave in February. The politician made his remarks while campaigning and commented on Ecuador's legalization of civil unions.
Zavala is vehemently opposed to same-sex marriage. He reportedly said that homosexuality is "immoral" and that it is a "severe deviation of conduct." He also said a number of times that gays are sinners. After he made the statements, several LGBT activist groups complained to Ecuador's electoral court. Zavala soon found himself in court to account for his controversial statements.
Judge Patricia Baca Mancheno told Zavala his comments violated the country's 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 religious nature."
LGBT groups lauded the punishment. Zavala said the ruling goes against God's will. He said he plans to appeal the sentence.
"On what they judge me, they will be judged. They don't have interference in heaven," the religious-leader-turned-politician said. "One day God will judge everything, and be prepared to explain to God why you called evil good, and good evil."
Ecuador was the first country in the Americas, and the third in the world, to include sexual orientation as a protected category in its constitution. The Constitution also prohibits discrimination based on gender identity.