Whereas disabled people haven’t really been mentioned by Bolsonaro, in his political career to date or on the campaign trail, I had to look at the effects of his planned policies on disabled people in other countries and take his ambivalence, at the very least, as implied.
LGBT+ people have no such irresoluteness to worry about. What they do have to be concerned with is Bolsonaro’s statements about LGBT+ people for they are many and unquestionably nasty.
LGBT+ citizens make up 8.35% of Brazil’s population, around 20 million people. In 2017 a record number of homophobia related violent deaths were recorded, 445, a 30% rise on 2016 according to the LGBT watchdog Gay da Bahia. With no federal law against homophobic hate speech Bolsonaro is free to make statements such as ‘gay people could be cured through the use of physical punishment’. With a President who seemingly cheers the homophobes on no wonder a climate of fear pervades LGBT+ society across Brazil.
“I do not kiss my wife on the street. Why face society? Why take that into the school? Little children of 6 or 7, watching two men kiss as the government wanted them to do. Is this democracy?”
Bolsonaro has been hailed, or derided depending on who you ask, as the ‘Tropical Trump’. Casting an eye north to see what the Trump Administration has meant for LGBT+ lives makes for uneasy reading. In March this year Trump announced that trans people would be banned from military service. In a statement released by the White House it was claimed that the policy had been drawn up by ‘experts’, strange considering Trump’s disdain for them. The policy was criticised as transphobia dressed up as defence policy and that it would pose more risks to military effectiveness rather than reduce it with trans people hiding their identity and depriving the military of talented human resources.
Trump has also been making huge alterations to the political balance of the US Supreme Court. One of his first appointments was the replacement of the late Antonin Scalia, himself a noted enemy of LGBT+ rights, with Neil Gorsuch. Despite being relatively ambiguous in his stated view on LGBT+ rights in the past it seems that Gorsuch soon picked up the Trumpian habit and duly dissented against a Supreme Court ruling that requires states to list same-sex parents on birth certificates.
And please don’t think that Trump’s deputy, Mike Pence, harbours more liberal leanings on this issue. In 2002 Pence wrote that Congress should oppose same-sex marriage, oppose efforts to give LGBT people anti-discrimination protections and stop giving federal money to AIDS/HIV groups that “celebrate and encourage the types of behaviours that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus”. He even introduced an amendment to the establishment of an anti-AIDS (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief or PEPFAR) fund by George Bush that meant a third of the $1.4 Billion earmarked for the fund was spent on the promotion of abstinent and monogamist lifestyles which a later study by a team at Stanford University concluded that the money had been wasted - no change in lifestyle was effected by PEPFAR.
So if ’Tropical Trump’ looks across the Caribbean to the ‘Tropical White House’ in Florida he will find that it is perfectly OK to be in the highest office in the land and be an open homophobe. Yes, Trump et al have had their fingers burnt by losing the House of Representatives on Tuesday night but, given Bolsonaro’s affection for the dictatorial past of his country, he may well bring about such a change in how Brazil operates as a country that opposition and protest would be quelled and democratic opportunities to get rid of him curtailed.
The outlook for the LGBT+ community in Brazil is very bleak. The UK, Europe, Canada and Australia must stand up to Bolsonaro and any lurch towards fascism and/or the condoning of homophobic attacks and attitudes must be met with condemnation and sanctions such as boycotts if need be. Be prepared.