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Attacking LGBTQ Community, Brazil’s New Prez Keeps His Promise

Jair Bolsonaro wasting no time scaling back rights for marginalized communities

Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, moved quickly to keep faith with his promise to go after the LGBTQ and other marginalized communities.
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Hate can’t wait.

President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil immediately launched his much-anticipated attacks against the LGBTQ community and other marginalized groups with a series of executive orders during his first day in office.

Within hours of becoming president on Tuesday, Bolsonaro, a self-declared homophobe, removed LGBTQ issues from consideration under the Ministry of Women, Family, and Human Rights, which is a unit within the president’s executive office that was formerly known as the Ministry of Human Rights.

The new leader of that office, Damares Alves, signaled her plans to embrace Bolsonaro’s reactionary posture when she said during her swearing-in ceremony that “girls will be princesses and boys will be princes” while blasting the “ideological indoctrination of children and teenagers.”

Bolsonaro also targeted Brazil’s native population by signing an executive order that makes it difficult for new land to be allocated for indigenous communities and descendants of slaves.

While the Justice Ministry was previously responsible for allocating land to indigenous people, Bolsonaro shifted that power to the Agriculture Ministry amid outcry from agricultural business leaders protective of their economic interests, according to the Associated Press.

Bolsonaro took to Twitter on Wednesday to justify the move in a statement that downplayed the presence of indigenous people.

“Less than one million people live in those places isolated from the real Brazil,” he tweeted Wednesday. “They are exploited and manipulated by nonprofits. Together we will integrate those citizens and give value to all Brazilians.”

Additionally, Luiz Henrique Mandetta of the Health Ministry indicated this week that healthcare funds for the indigenous population could be slashed.

OutRight Action International, a global organization that addresses human rights for LGBTQ and intersex people, could not immediately be reached for comment on the impact of Bolsonaro’s executive orders.

Bolsonaro’s actions followed a presidential campaign during which he unleashed hateful rhetoric about indigenous people, minorities, LGBTQ people, and women en route to capturing the support of nearly 58 million voters.

Among his campaign pledges included a commitment to promote “the true meaning of marriage as a union between men and women,” sparking wide concern among the LGBTQ population about the fragility of marriage equality there.

According to the New York Times, a number of same-sex couples have been rushing to the altar to tie the knot before Bolsonaro makes good on his pledge, although legal experts have predicted that Brazil’s Supreme Court would quickly strike down any legislation reversing marriage equality.

Bolsonaro has fostered warm relations with President Donald Trump’s administration. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on January 2 that he had a “great” meeting with Bolsonaro and that he looks forward to reinforcing a “shared commitment” to “human rights.”

In light of Bolsonaro’s executive actions and Trump’s documented hostility toward LGBTQ people, immigrants, women, and communities of color, it was not immediately clear which human rights “commitments” the two administrations shared.

Updated 8:24 pm, January 16, 2019
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