Brazil’s House of Representatives has elected a renowned racist and homophobic deputy and evangelical pastor, Marco Feliciano, to chair the house Committee on Human Rights and Minorities (CDHM) today.
The election should have taken place yesterday (6 March), but the session was adjourned due to uproar caused by Feliciano’s nomination.
Feliciano was nominated and elected by his extreme right-wing Social Christian Party (PSC), with 11 of the 12 votes of the members of the CDHM.
Six other members of CDHM who are members of left wing parties did not attend the vote in protest, including Brazil’s openly gay deputy, Jean Wyllys .
Feliciano will now control the committee which is responsible for defending human rights and the rights of minorities in Brazil.
Feliciano has previously made consistent anti-gay remarks, saying being gay is ‘hateful’, ‘sick’ and against the rule of God, adding that ‘salvation is available to them’ in the form of a gay ‘cure’.
He is also on the record saying that ‘AIDS is a a gay cancer’, and called LGBT advocates a ‘gay dictatorship’.
Feliciano previously made racist statements, saying: ‘Africans descend from an ancestor cursed by Noah’, adding that’s why it suffers from ‘hunger, diseases, ethnic wars’.
The election was adjured to today following an uproar by human rights groups and center-left politicians, and was held behind closed doors.
Many political commentators have suggested that the ruling left wing Labor party (PT) had given up its control of the committee to strategically gain power of more politically important house committees.
Other centrist parties (PSDB and PMDB) gave up their representation in the committee to members of PSC, which initially had only one representative but ended with five.
The former chair of the committee, Domingos Dutra (PT), resigned moments before the vote and refused to continue the session.
Dutra said: ‘I abdicate on my behalf and PT due to the dictatorship that has been established here.’
PSC, Feliciano’s party, is an extreme right wing party that advocates ‘gay cure’ therapy and opposes equality and anti-discrimination laws.
CDHM is the key institution to passing equality bills and anti-discrimination legislation.
It is also responsible for liasing with human rights groups both local and internaitonal.