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President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro allegedly used an anti-gay slur to refer to those who wear face coverings to protect against COVID-19 transmission.
Bolsonaro, who has a history of anti-LGBTQ comments, said protective masks are “coisa de viado,” which The Guardian translated as “for fairies.” However, other translations of Bolsonaro’s comments note that “viado” translates to “faggots,” making the president’s alleged comments “masks are for faggots.”
The comments were revealed after the far-right leader announced that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Bolsonaro reportedly uttered the slur to aides after visitors were uncomfortable with the president’s attempts to greet them with handshakes and his shunning of face coverings.
He also said that he would “refuse to wear masks” and dismissed fears over transmission as “nonsense.”
Bolsonaro subsequently revealed last week that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
It comes amid his refusal to implement stringent measures to curb the spread of the virus in Brazil, which is second only to the United States in both cases and deaths.
Almost 1.9 million Brazilians have tested positive for COVID-19, with more than 72,000 deaths from the virus.
Bolsonaro’s mask comments were slammed on social media. Jandira Feghali, Minority Leader of Brazil’s Chamber of Representatives and a physician, tweeted that Bolsonaro’s comments that wearing masks is a “faggot” thing “makes sense,” because “[the] LGBTQI+ population that the president loves to mock is much more aware, intelligent and sensitive to the pandemic than he.”
Law professor and columnist Thiago Amparo tweeted: “President, one day a fairy, like me and many others, will sit in the presidential chair, and be an infinitely better president than you were.”
Journalist Gregory Prudenciano tweeted that he was “very proud to be fagot and to respect himself and others when wearing a mask,” noting it was behavior he “did not learn from the President.”
Bolsonaro has been compared to Donald Trump in his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including his efforts to downplay the severity of the virus, for shunning fact-based and science-led recommendations for tackling the pandemic, and for trying to shore up the economy rather than implementing measures to prevent transmission of the virus.
He also embraced malaria drug hydroxychloroquine after Trump touted it as potential treatments for the virus. The World Health Organization this month ceased trialing hydroxychloroquine after it found “little or no reduction” in mortality rates.
Bolsonaro’s comments are the latest in a long line of anti-LGBTQ statements from the Brazilian president. He was elected in 2018 on a right-wing platform that included opposition to LGBTQ rights.
Earlier this year, he accused the World Health organization of encouraging children to masturbate and be gay, in a since-deleted Facebook post in which he said he wouldn’t be following advice from the organization.
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.
Bolsonaro also 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 a 2013 interview with Stephen Fry, Bolsonaro claimed that “homosexual fundamentalists” were brainwashing children to “satisfy them sexually in the future.”
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