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Brazil’s homophobic president cancels trip to New York following backlash

Brazil’s homophobic president cancels trip to New York following backlash


Brazil’s openly homophobic president, Jair Bolsonaro, has canceled his planned trip to the US following backlash from LGBTI rights supporters.

An NGO that promotes links between the US and Brazil, had planned to hold a ceremony honoring Bolsonaro in New York.

However, following the outcry from LGBTI rights advocates and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, a number of companies pulled their sponsorship from the event. Several venues also refused to host the ceremony.

In the past, Bolsonaro has made numerous anti-LGBTI comments, on one occasion going so far as to proclaim himself a ‘proud homophobe’. In late-April he said he did not want Brazil to become a ‘gay tourism paradise’.

Environmental activists also opposed Bolosonaro’s visit due to his plans to erode protections for the Amazon.

Bolsonaro’s spokesperson blamed ‘interest groups’ and de Blasio for the cancellation on Friday (3 May).

Deeply humiliating for Bolsonaro

The Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce had organized the event to take place later this month. The group is a non-profit that promotes trade, investment and cultural ties between the two countries.

The Chamber had planned to honor Bolsonaro at their 2019 Person of the Year Award Gala Dinner.

The Marriott group accepted hosting duties for the event after the original host dropped out.

The American Museum of Natural History said they decided not host the event after being condemned by LGBTI rights groups. Political leaders, museum employees, and celebrities also heavily criticized the museum for agreeing to host Bolsonaro.

A number of other companies also pulled their sponsorship of the event. This includes management consultancy firm, Bain & Co, Delta Air Lines and the Financial Times newspaper.

Mayor de Blasio lent his voice to those opposed to Bolsonaro’s visit, as did New York Senator  Brad Hoylman.

Canceling his visit will be deeply humiliating for Bolsonaro. The controversial world-leader has a great affinity for the US, and is on friendly terms with US President Donald Trump.

During his run presidential campaign, some pundits dubbed Bolsonaro ‘the Trump of the Tropics’, comparing Bolsonaro’s firey outspokenness to his American counterpart.

Bolsonaro’s spokesperson, General Otavio Rego Barros, said the president canceled his visit because of ‘the resistance and deliberate attacks by the mayor of New York and the pressure of interest groups’ on the event’s organizers, the BBC reports.

A history of homophobia  

Bolsonaro’s comments lashing out at the LGBTI community – as well as minorities and human rights supporters – are well-documented.

In the past, Bolsonaro infamously said ‘Yes, I’m homophobic – and very proud of it’. He has also suggested that if parents see their son ‘acting a little bit gay’ they should beat him ‘to make him normal’, and that if he saw a gay couple on the street he would ‘whack them’.

During his presidential campaign, LGBTI rights activists expressed concerns that Bolsonaro’s presidency would usher in a new wave of terror for Brazil’s LGBTI community.

However, recent instances of Bolsonaro’s homophobic outbursts have been widely ridiculed.

In March, the far-right president tweeted a video of one man urinating on another at the annual Brazillian festival, Carnival.

The president wrote that he posted the video to show ‘the truth’ of how the iconic event had become morally corrupt. He later asked ‘What is a golden shower?’ in a separate tweet.

Bolsonaro, a former army captain, has also expressed admiration for Brazil’s military junta, which ran from 1964 to 1985. During their 21-year rule, the junta detained, tortured and executed thousands of people.