After recently cancelling a proposed trip to New York City, Brazil’s anti-gay, right-wing populist President, Jair Bolsonaro, has instead opted for a part of the US where he might feel more welcome: Texas.
News emerged late Wednesday that Bolsonaro, who took office in January, intends to visit Dallas, Texas next Thursday (16 May).
The news came from the World Affairs Councils of America (WACA). It will host an event where Bolsonaro will meet with civic leaders.
A non-profit organization, WACA describes itself on its website as: ‘an independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to engaging the public and leading global voices to better understand the world, America’s international role, and the policy choices that impact our daily lives and our future.’
The President of its Dallas/Fort Worth council, Jim Falk, said in a statement: ‘We look forward to hearing from the president of the largest country in the Southern Hemisphere and the fifth-largest country in the world.’
Mayor of Dallas to meet Bolsonaro
According to representatives for Bolsonaro earlier this week, he was invited to Dallas by its Democratic mayor, Mike Rawlings. However, in an email to Reuters, a spokesperson for Rawlings’ office denied this.
‘Mayor Mike Rawlings did not invite Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro to Dallas.
‘Mayor Rawlings will welcome him to the city, as is customary for the mayor to do for democratically elected presidents of major countries.’
This is in contrast to NYC mayor, Bill de Blasio, who criticized Bolsonaro’s planned visit to his city. He called Bolsonaro a ‘dangerous man.’
Besides de Blasio, several organizations and businesses in NYC cancelled their involvement with Bolsonaro’s planned trip following public pressure.
Meeting with Bush and Cruz
Yesterday, a spokesperson for Bolsonaro said the trip to Texas will also allow the Brazilian to accept an invitation to meet with former US President George W. Bush.
The spokesperson also said Bolsonaro will meet Republican, Texas senator Ted Cruz.
Zeke Stokes, chief programs officer at GLAAD, was among the LGBTI advocates to criticize WACA hosting Bolsonaro in Dallas.
‘The World Affairs Council cannot be a neutral bystander in the face of issuing an invitation to a world leader who has advocated violence against LGBTQ people in his own country. They must rescind this invitation immediately and stand for equality and acceptance.’
HRC (Human Rights Campaign) also expressed concern about Bolsonaro returning to the US.
‘Jair Bolsonaro’s long history of vicious and hateful attacks on LGBTQ and other marginalized communities is well-known and well-documented,’ said HRC Deputy Press Secretary Milagros Chirinos in a statement to GSN.
‘Yet time and again Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, and others in this Administration have praised the dangerous demagoguery rather than speaking out against his radical agenda.
‘This White House and all our nation’s leaders have an obligation to loudly condemn and take action against his hateful rhetoric and the attacks on human rights taking place in Brazil and around the world.’
Bolsonaro’s history of anti-LGBTI statements
Jair Bolsonaro has made no secret of his disliking of homosexuality. He has previously said, ‘Yes, I’m homophobic – and very proud of it.’
In an interview with Stephen Fry in 2013, he said, ‘Brazilian society doesn’t like homosexuals’. Fry later described the encounter as ‘chilling.’
As recently as late April, Bolsonaro spoke out about allowing Brazil to become a ‘gay tourism paradise.’