Amidst an increasing wave of homophobic violence in Brazil, which puts the country among the world's worst in terms of crime against the LGBT community – as reported in the first article of this series dedicated to the LGBT scene – federal deputy Jean Wyllys, the first openly homosexual member of the Brazilian parliament, has presented a Constitutional Amendment Proposal (PEC) to legalize marriage for same-sex couples.
Meanwhile, recent statements of hatred and prejudice by some parliamentarians, far right groups and religious representatives, who oppose this and other legislative advancements in LGBT issues, have raised a feeling of indignation in the blogosphere.
An article from Jornal Brasil, republished by O Evangelho (The Gospel) [pt], points out that several religious groups, namely evangelicals and catholics, have been opposing what they call the beginning of a “Gay Dictatorship“ [pt], which includes “homosexual “marriage”, the Ministry of Education's supposed primer against “homophobia” (known as the “Gay Kit”) and PLC 122/2006 (the gay gag law), a bill that intends to criminalize any criticism of or opposition to homosexual behavior or to the intentions of the gay lobby”. In addition, these groups favor the dissemination of ideals which are contrary to the advocacy of LGBT rights [pt].
On this matter, Paulo Cândido, writing for the blog Biscoito Fino e a Massa, criticizes [pt] the “lack of arguments” and the “empty rhetoric” of the “religious right-wing”:
que mal esconde seu ódio e sua intenção de impor a moral de uma religião à sociedade como um todo.
Robson Fernando, writing for the blog Acerto de Contas, adds [pt]:
Fora a visão utilitária, influenciada pela moral cristã, que os anti-LGBT possuem da sexualidade – segundo os quais o sexo teria função estritamente reprodutiva –, a homofobia e o alegado “direito de criticar a homossexualidade” têm tudo em comum com a intolerância religiosa e o suposto “direito” de alguém discordar que as pessoas possam seguir outras crenças.
The cases of homophobia, however, transcend the churches and temples, and have even reached the political realm. One of the figures that bridges the two institutions is the evangelical preacher and federal deputy, Marco Feliciano. Feliciano was involved in a controversy after using Twitter to make several racist and homophobic statements, as journalist Paulo Lopes mentions [pt], quoting: “we love homosexuals, but we loathe their promiscuous practices”.
Homophobia with parliamentary representation
Federal deputy Jair Bolsonaro, affiliated with the Progressive Party in Rio de Janeiro, recently became involved in a controversy for defending the right of parents to hit their children to prevent them from becoming gay.
(…) fez declarações homofóbicas em um vídeo exibido pelo programa CQC, da TV Bandeirantes, nesta segunda-feira (28). Para Bolsonaro, ele não correria o risco de ter um um filho gay, pois seus filhos tiveram “uma boa educação, com um pai presente”. Ele também afirmou que não participaria de um evento homosexual porque “eu não participo de promover os maus costumes (sic).
An advocate for far right-wing policies and a former army captain, Bolsonaro has made a habit of insulting human rights defenders as well as defending torture, but has never been punished by his peers [pt].
Blogger José Márcio Dias de Alencar wrote [pt] an Open Letter to the Deputy:
O senhor, futuro ex-deputado Jair Bolsonaro, representa tudo que o Brasil hoje mais abomina. E todos os 120 mil eleitores que o colocaram em seu sexto mandato são totalmente responsáveis por esse grotesco show de horrores protagonizado em nossa recente democracia. Irônico um ex-militar que apóia e se diz saudosista da ditadura depender tanto da democracia pra viver, não? São 120 mil pessoas que pregam o racismo, a homofobia e a misoginia.
Via Twitter, the actress and singer Preta Gil, offended by the video of Bolsonaro shown on CQC, announced [pt] that she will sue Bolsonaro for his remarks, to which he replied that he had been misinterpreted [pt]. Jair Bolsonaro defended [pt] himself on his website and denied that he had insulted the singer Preta Gil.
On the night of March 29, a group of parliamentarians, among them Jean Wyllys, Brizola Neto, Manuela D'Ávila and Ivan Valente, filed a complaint [pt] to the House of Representatives asking them to take action against deputy Jair Bolsonaro.
Neo-Nazis, Fascists and “Nationalists”
The statements by Jair Bolsonaro caused the desired effect, and in his defense several right-wing groups staged a demonstration in Avenida Paulista and have been organizing others [pt] against the PLC 122, and in defense of the family and the right to hold prejudice.
Groups [pt] such as Ultra Defesa, União Nacionalista (Nationalist Union), RAC Kombat – Rock Against Communism, Carecas do Subúrbio (Baldies from the Suburb), Integralists and Nazi Skinheads, gathered to defend the deputy and “the family” against the “Gay Dictatorship” and the attempts to criminalize homophobia.
[os manifestantes acabaram se] deparando com uma contramanifestação de defensores dos direitos dos homossexuais, um ato corajoso e insensato porque, do outro lado, havia criminosos conhecidos e procurados, o que gerou uma dezena de prisões de bolsonaretes. Em nenhuma outra parte do país, neonazistas e skinheads, entre os quais devem estar os que vêm aterrorizando homossexuais na avenida Paulista, teriam coragem de sair assim tão abertamente à luz do sol.
A protest, led by LGBT movements and activists from various segments of the left, was organized on the same day and time as the Nazi-Fascist protest, requiring a huge police contingent to separate the two groups.
Federal deputy Jean Wyllys, in a letter published on journalist Leandro Fortes’ blog Brasilia, eu vi (Brasilia, I saw) [pt], calls for the “defense of human dignity, (…) a sovereign principle of the Constitution” and states:
(…) o limite da liberdade de expressão de quem quer que seja é a dignidade da pessoa humana do outro. O que fanáticos e fundamentalistas religiosos mais têm feito nos últimos anos é violar a dignidade humana de homossexuais.
Despite this whole scenario, there is hope. The PEC proposed by Jean Wyllys, and other initiatives on the criminalization of homophobia promise not only to illuminate the discussion over legalizing marriage for same-sex couples, but also to promote greater equality between all citizens regardless of their sexual orientation.
The discussions of and movement towards acceptance of LGBT, already taking place both in parliament and in civil society, will be the focus of the next and third article in the series LGBT Scene Under Discussion.