The German government has rebuked President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus for saying he would “rather be a dictator than gay”.
The comments came as he took part in a ski event in Minsk.
Alexander Lukashenko was responding to criticism of his government by Poland and Germany – whose foreign minister is homosexual – in the wake of a diplomatic row last week.
“As for that one – whoever he is, pink or blue – who was shouting about dictatorship – when I heard it, I thought: it’s better to be a dictator than gay. But God will judge him,” said the Belarusian leader.
Guido Westerwelle – who is Germany’s first openly gay minister – called Lukashenko’s government the “last dictatorship in Europe”.
It came after Belarus had recalled its permanent envoy to the EU and its ambassador to Poland in protest at new sanctions over alleged human rights abuses.
The EU has recalled its ambassadors in retaliation for the expulsions by Minsk.
“The remarks speak for themselves. And even after those comments, I’m determined not to move one inch from my initial commitment to human and civil rights in Belarus,” Westerwelle said.
Last year Lukashenko apologised for comments he made to Westerwelle but added that he “didn’t like gays”.
The former Soviet nation remains diplomatically isolated, 18 years since Lukashenko took power.