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Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who is single, says he is not gay and wants to have children one day, despite ruling party supporters' claims otherwise.
Supporters of late president Hugo Chavez, who won October elections against Capriles and died in March, have long used gay slurs against the Miranda state governor as part of political attacks.
"I am not offended at all and if I were gay, I would say, 'what's the problem?'" Capriles told CNN's Spanish-language sister network CNN en Espanol on Sunday.
Capriles described as "painful" comments by lawmaker Pedro Carreno, who shouted out "homosexual" as he displayed photos at the National Assembly showing a top Capriles aide dressed in women's clothing, during what appeared to be a party.
"What I say about these attacks is that I'm not homophobic and I'm a defender of the Venezuelan people and sexual diversity, the rights of those who may be gay or lesbian," said Capriles, 41, who has no known girlfriend.
Capriles, who lost the April 14 presidential election to Nicolas Maduro by a margin of just 1.49 percentage points, said he wants to have a family and children, although he has had to put aside his personal life in favor of his political career.
"What time do I have to get married or have a normal family? What kind of a woman would accept that I work seven days a week?" Capriles said.
"I feel that my life is so committed to public service that my personal life has been set aside."