President Trump praised Brazil’s far-right president as he stripped away LGBTQ protections on his first day in office.
Newly seated Jair Bolsonaro signed a series of executive orders on his first day targeting ethnic, sexual, and gender minorities in Brazil. One of the orders erased considering of LGBTQ issues by the South American country’s human rights ministry, known as the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights.
According to the Brazilian newspaper O Globo, Provisional Measure 870 fails to mention queer or transgender people while making reference to the rights of the family, youth, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
In addition, the nondiscrimination body known as “National Council for Combating Discrimination and Promotion of the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Travestis, and Transgender” is not listed in the document by its full name. Instead, it’s referred to as the “National Council for Combating Discrimination,” as PinkNews previously noted.
Despite widespread backlash to Bolsonaro’s order on Twitter, the POTUS wished Brazil’s new leader well. “The U.S.A. is with you!” he told the 63-year-old politician.
Trump wasn’t the only current or former member of the administration who failed to mention the erasure of some of Brazil’s most marginalized communities on Bolsonaro’s very first day in office. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent him “warm congratulations from the people of the United States.”
Nikki Haley, who resigned as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in October, also wished him “congratulations.”
“It’s great to have another U.S.-friendly leader in South America, who will join the fight against dictatorships in Venezuela and Cuba, and who clearly understands the danger of China’s expanding influence in the region,” she claimed on Twitter, overlooking the fact that Bolsonaro ran on a pro-dictatorship platform.
While the remarks were lambasted, it makes sense that the White House would ally itself with a politician styled in the Commander-in-Chief’s own image. Bolsonaro is often referred to as the “Trump of the Tropics.”
In fact, the incoming president’s anti-LGBTQ decisions appear to be taking several pages out of Trump’s own playbook. During the early days of his administration, the White House removed all mention of queer and transgender people from its official web pages. Most of those references have not been restored.
The federal government has continued to roll back equality in the nearly two years since—whether it’s transgender military service or protections for LGBTQ employees in the workplace.
Human Rights Minister Damares Alves has signaled that the Brazilian government under Bolsonaro would continue to follow in Trump’s footsteps. An evangelical pastor, Alves has vowed that “there will be no more ideological indoctrination of children and teenagers in Brazil.”
“Girls will be princesses and boys will be princes,” she said.
Alves has previously claimed that the “Brazilian family is being threatened” by the movement for LGBTQ rights, even though the opposite is more likely true. Brazil’s queer and trans community faces among the world’s highest hate crime rates, with 445 people murdered in 2017.
The human rights ministry, however, has attempted to reassure LGBTQ Brazilians that Bolsonaro’s order will have no impact on their community.
“The current Directorate for the Promotion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Travestis, and Transsexual Rights, formerly a body of the National Secretariat of Citizenship, will be maintained, with the same structure, in the National Secretariat of Global Protection,” the department claimed in a statement.
Only time will tell, but Bolsonaro’s own views provide little comfort as to whether his presidency will uphold the rights of Brazil’s LGBTQ community. He refers to himself as “homophobic and very proud of it.”
In addition, the ultraconservative leader has claimed he would rather have a dead child than a gay one, claiming he would be “incapable of loving a homosexual son.” He has also compared LGBTQ advocacy to fighting for “a pedophile’s right to have sex with a two-year-old.”
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