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Brazil’s only openly gay lawmaker flees country after death threats

Brazil’s only openly gay lawmaker flees country after death threats

Brazil's only openly-gay lawmaker (Photo: Facebook)

Brazil’s only openly LGBTI lawmaker Jean Wyllys announced he would quit his seat in Congress and had fled the country on Thursday (24 January).

‘For the future of this cause,’ Wyllys told Folha de S. Paulo, ‘I have to stay alive. I don’t want to be a martyr.’

He said he did not plan to return to Brazil.

The LGBTI activist has regularly clashed with Brazil’s far-right homophobic President, Jair Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro, who took office this month, has described himself as a ‘proud homophobe’. LGBTI activists have warned Bolsonaro will usher in a new wave of terror for Brazil’s LGBTI community.

Jean Wyllys

Wyllys rose to fame after reaching the final of Big Brother Brazil. He used the exposure to push for LGBTI rights. In 2010, he ran a successful Congress election campaign.

Commentators often describe him as Brazil’s Harvey Milk.

Wyllys regularly clashed with Bolsanaro when they were both Congressman. In 2016, Wyllys famously spat at Bolsonaro.

Wyllys on Thursday said the assassination of political ally and human rights activist Marielle Franco gave him ‘a sense of seriousness’.

Ahead of last year’s elections, a bisexual city councilwoman from Wyllys’s socialist party was also assassinated.

‘Great day’

After Wyllys’ interview was published, Bolsonaro tweeted ‘great day’ with a thumbs up emoji.

‘I would be incapable of loving a homosexual child’ Bolsonaro once said. ‘If your son starts acting a little gay, hit him with some leather, and he’ll change his behavior’ he also said.

Many LGBTI Brazilians who said they were fearful for their rights and safety under the rule of the openly homophobic Bolsonaro.

Prior to the presidency, Brazil saw a spate of same-sex weddings, as same-sex couples rushed to marry before Bolsonaro took office.
2018 was one of the deadliest years for Brazil’s LGBTI community.

In September, Brazilian LGBTI rights group said more than 300 LGBTI people have been murdered in Brazil in 2018. That’s from 220 by the same time the previous year.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) said it ‘laments’ Wyllys’ resignation.

David Miranda, an openly gay councilman from Rio, will replace Wyllys. Mirando responded to Bolsonaro on Twitter.

‘Check your emotions. One LGBT is leaving, but another is entering,’ he wrote. ‘See you in [the capital] Brasília’

See Also:

Why is Tim Cook dining with Brazil’s anti-gay president?

Brazil’s new president strips LGBTI rights on his first day in office

Jair Bolsonaro is sworn in as the 42nd president of Brazil