As he continues his presidential campaign, the candidate for the presidency of the Dominican Republic, former President Hipolito Mejia, made homophobic remarks while in the U.S., catching the attention of LGBT activists and highlighting the status of LGBT rights in the Caribbean nation.

Former President Mejia is running for president of the Dominican Republic on the ticket of the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM), a center-left party. As part of his campaign, the former president traveled last week to New Jersey, New York and Boston, where a large population of Dominicans resides.

However, one stop during his U.S. tour seems to have tripped up the presidential candidate. LGBT blogger Andres Duque revealed that when Mejia stopped in New Jersey he made homophobic remarks and it was all recorded.

While meeting with New Jersey members of the PRM and standing in front of banner reading: “Democracy, Development, Equality,” Mejia said: “But there are people who can change everything about you,” referring to political advisers. “Even the way you sit down.”

“Debes sentarte como un ma*****cito,” Mejia said as a joke, saying advisers would even recommend him sit like “a little fag**t.”

When Duque’s story spread, some within the New York City government did not take kind to Mejia’s statement, including City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, arguably one of New York City’s most powerful Latinos.

She released a statement through the New York City Council denouncing former President Mejia and his statement.

“I am appalled that a former Dominican Republic president and a potential future presidential candidate has used a derogatory term that is offensive, inappropriate and hurtful toward LGBT people. President Mejia needs to apologize to the LGBT community in his country and here in New York, where he made this unacceptable statement,” she said.

Mark-Viverito said leaders are meant to unite people and she stood with LGBT people in the U.S. as well as the Dominican Republic.

“I will not be silent when bigotry shows its ugly face,” she said.

LGBT rights in the Caribbean nation have progressed very slowly. The country still does not recognize same-sex marriage and attitudes towards homosexuality remain very biased.

A report by the Washington Blade found that most bias against LGBT people is caused by religion, particularly the Catholic Church and evangelical preachers. The nation is uneducated on LGBT issues and health and the government does little to help LGBT citizens.