SÃO PAULO | Jair Bolsonaro will become Brazil’s next president after he won the second round of the country’s presidential election on Oct 28.
Bolsonaro defeated former São Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s Workers’ Party by a 55.1-44.9 percent margin. Bolsonaro will take office on Jan. 1.
Observers have noted Bolsonaro won the polarized presidential election, in part, because Brazilians have grown weary of corruption associated with the leftist governments of Lula and former President Dilma Rousseff that governed the country for 13 years. Public opinion polls indicated Brazilians were willing to support anyone who was not a member of the Peoples’ Party, including a presidential candidate without a clear government platform, who appeared unprepared for interviews and refused to participate in debates against Haddad.
Bolsonaro criticized for homophobic, misogynist rhetoric
Aside from appearing unprepared and having passed only two bills during his 27 years as a congressman for Rio de Janeiro, Bolsonaro throughout his career has also been known for his homophobic and misogynistic behavior.
The thing that may spark the most concern among Brazil’s LGBT community is his commitment to Catholic groups that he would defend the “true sense of marriage” between a man and a woman. This position signals he would support the repeal of marriage equality that became a reality across the country in 2013.
Bolsonaro has also targeted people of color, Brazil’s indigenous community and women, in addition to the LGBT community. Attacks involving his supporters against these minority groups have increased since he launched his campaign.
One such case happened in Santo André, a city just outside São Paulo, where a 19-year-old man was threatened with a gun by a man he met on Grindr. Another case involved a 19-year-old woman who was beaten and had a swastika carved into her skin with a knife by three men because she was wearing a T-shirt with the saying “ele não” or “not him,” a phrase used by minority groups that campaigned against Bolsonaro.
Witnesses say a group of people who stabbed a transexual woman to death in downtown São Paulo on Oct. 16 yelled, “It is just the beginning. Gay people won’t have it easy when Bolsonaro is president.” The president-elect has previously used this phrase during interviews and it has been evoked in other attacks that took place across the country.
Activists fear Bolsonaro will rescind rights
So what is in store for LGBT people for the next four or more years if Bolsonaro himself is re-elected or if one of his allies becomes president?
Bolsonaro’s critics say the answer is simple: Fear and returning to LGBT ghettos. Another bigger concern is the impact a Bolsonaro administration will have on the rights of LGBT Brazilians.
The Brazilian Senate recently released for public comment a proposed amendment to the country’s nondiscrimination that would criminalize homophobia and impose the same punishment as those who are convicted of crimes against women, people of color, seniors and people with disabilities. Less than 10,000 people opposed the proposal, compared to 400,000 people who said they support it.
The Senate has yet to vote on the amendment, and a date has not been set. Activists are concerned Bolsonaro would veto the proposal if it were approved in 2019.