‘Are you a pedophile?’ Lawmaker calls question to lesbian colleague a misunderstanding

A lawmaker in Rhode Island asked his lesbian colleague if she’s a pedophile before later calling it a misunderstanding, reports say.

The question came from Rhode Island State Rep. Robert Quattrocchi during a Friday, March 17, State House hearing on equity and inclusion bill HB 5763, Business Insider reported.

The bill “would require all legislation submitted in the general assembly to include an ‘equity impact’ statement on how it might affect ‘historically disadvantaged’ populations,” the outlet reported.

Quattrocchi, a Republican, raised concerns about the bill being too broad, asking whether lawmakers would have to take into account how laws might impact “Satanists on Rhode Island” or “pedophiles in Rhode Island,” regarding sexual orientation, according to WPRI.

Rep. Rebecca Kislak, who is lesbian, responded that “pedophile” is not a sexual orientation and added the statement was “really offensive,” the outlet reported.

Quattrocchi said he “didn’t mean to” offend, WPRI reported, and then asked, “are you a pedophile? I’m sorry.”

He later issued a statement calling the interaction a “misunderstanding,” but stopped short of publicly apologizing, The Providence Journal reported. He said he has apologized multiple times to Kislak privately.

McClatchy News has reached out to Quattrocchi’s office for comment and did not immediately receive a response.

House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi said Quattrocchi’s “after-the-fact statement” is “a step in the right direction” but ultimately isn’t an adequate apology, adding that Quattrocchi’s pedophile comment was “reprehensible,” the outlet reported.

“It was insulting to a colleague of the House and it is not the kind of decorum I expect in the House of Representatives,” he told the outlet. He added that Quattrocchi should publicly apologize “in whatever forum he wants, but yes, there should be a public apology … because the effect of his words were extremely hurtful to the LGBT community.”

Kislak, a Democrat, agreed, saying Quattrocchi’s statement was “not an apology.”

“Wrongly and dangerously conflating sexual orientation with pedophilia is repeating ages-old prejudice,” Kislak told The Providence Journal.

Several LGBTQ advocacy groups condemned Quattrocchi’s comments in a joint statement issued via GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, known as GLAD.

“The resurrection of such dangerous rhetoric based in bias and disinformation is part of what is fueling the flames of increased harassment and violence and a sweeping campaign of legislative attacks targeting LGBTQ+ people — primarily young people — across the country,” the statement says. “Rhode Island has been a leader in recognizing and protecting equality for the LGBTQ+ community.

“The people in this state are proud of that legacy,” the statement continued. “Our representatives should be working to ensure safety, dignity, and equity for all residents, not perpetuating dangerous, false comparisons that undermine the humanity of LGBTQ+ people.”

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