Jair Bolsonaro – Photo: Antonio Cruz/Agência Brasil.
LGBTQ media advocacy GLAAD is criticizing President Trump for “normalizing” the anti-LGBTQ actions and rhetoric of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, with whom he met in Washington on Tuesday.
Bolsonaro, a retired military officer and former federal deputy in Brazil’s Congress who is often referred to as “Trump of the Tropics” for his populist rhetoric and disdain for political correctness, was elected president last year on a right-wing platform that includes opposition to LGBTQ rights.
Throughout his political career, Bolsonaro has a history of making inflammatory comments insulting or expressing hostility towards members of the LGBTQ community. GLAAD claims that by failing to renounce some of Bolsonaro’s most incendiary anti-LGBTQ comments, Trump is in effect condoning such sentiments.
GLAAD has previously taken Trump to task for his own actions while in office, including his past failure to personally speak out against LGBTQ human rights abuses — rather than relying on condemnations by the State Department or the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations — particularly relating to ongoing anti-gay purges in Chechnya.
The United States has since announced a global initiative aimed at decriminalizing homosexuality and consensual same-sex acts between adults in Africa, the Middle East, and the Caribbean, but Trump did not seem to be aware of his own administration’s policy when questioned about it the day after it was announced.
Bolsonaro was criticized earlier this month for tweeting a sexually explicit video, purportedly taken during Brazil’s Carnival celebration, showing a man fingering his anus before getting urinated on by another man, to his more than 3 million followers. The video was immediately criticized by some as an attempt to smear the LGBTQ community by playing on stereotypes that they are sexually promiscuous and deviant.
In the tweet, president alleged that he was attempting to show how the country’s most popular celebration had devolved into debauchery. He added that he did not “feel comfortable showing it,” but wrote that “we have to expose the truth so the population can be aware and always set their priorities.”
In an interview with the Fox News program @Night the evening before he was to meet with Trump, Bolsonaro said he’s being unfairly attacked as a bigot, but really just believes in traditional family values, and harbors no animosity towards the LGBTQ community.
“One of the things that got me elected as president was my sense of respect to families, principles, tradition and custom,” he said. “And of course respect towards our culture as well as our religion. I am a Christian.”
Bolsonaro has previously made comments to the effect that he’d prefer his son to die in an accident or be a drug addict than be gay, claiming that he does not have a gay child because his children are “well educated.” He has also expressed support for violence against LGBTQ people — which is already rampant in Brazil — threatening to hit gay men if he saw them kissing, claiming that the presence of gays drives down property values, and suggesting that parents beat sons who act effeminately, despite the fact that an 8-year-old Brazilian boy was beaten to death by his father for exhibiting stereotypically feminine traits.
Unsurprisingly, Bolsonaro opposes allowing same-sex couples to adopt children, but has gone further than most right-wing politicos by accusing LGBTQ people of wanting to recruit children for sex and insisting that gay parents sexually abuse their children. In one interview, he claimed that the cause of most LGBTQ deaths in Brazil are due to drug use, prostitution, or being killed by their own partners, but that LGBTQ activists want to create a “sob story” by claiming they are the victims of homophobia.
Prior to becoming president, Bolsonaro told actress Ellen Page in an interview that being gay is a “behavioral issue” that has become more common because of “liberal habits,” drug use, and women working. He added that a young person who hangs out with certain people who exhibit certain behaviors, such as homosexuality, will soon adopt that same behavior.
He has also used homophobic slurs to refer to his political opponents, and issued an executive order barring the country’s human rights ministry from acknowledging, taking into account, or seeking to solve any concerns about LGBTQ equality, just hours after being sworn into office.
“Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is a tyrant who has condoned violence against LGBTQ people, even if it means death,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “Americans should be disturbed that the President of the United States is holding meetings with Bolsonaro and choosing to set a dangerous precedent by normalizing an anti-LGBTQ tyrant.”