President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil stood alongside President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden at the White House on March 19 and said the two nations are aligned in promoting straight relationships and rejecting political correctness.
“May I say that Brazil and the United States stand side by side in their efforts to ensure liberties in respect to traditional family lifestyles, respect to God, our creator against the gender ideology or politically correct attitudes and against fake news,” Bolsonaro said.
Trump did not address Bolsonaro’s comments on LGBTQ rights, but later complimented him on using the term “fake news.” During a subsequent question and answer session with the press, reporters did not ask the two leaders about those comments or LGBTQ issues.
Bolsonaro’s remarks, made during his highly anticipated visit to the US, represent the latest twist in his longstanding pattern of homophobia dating back to his time in Brazil’s Congress. He once described himself as “homophobic — and very proud of it,” and upon taking office as president he immediately took action against LGBTQ rights by removing those issues from the Ministry of Women, Family, and Human Rights.
Just two weeks before his visit to the United States, Bolsonaro mocked gay men in a tweet featuring a sexually explicit video.
“I don’t feel comfortable showing it, but we have to expose the truth to the population knowing and always taking their priorities,” Bolsonaro wrote in his tweet on March 5. “This is what has turned many street blocks in the Brazilian carnival.”
Trump’s tendency to side with some of the world’s most extreme right-wing leaders was on full display during his meeting with Bolsonaro. The US president said the relationship between the two nations “has never been better” and added that he intends to designate Brazil as a “major non-NATO ally or even possibly, if you start thinking about it, a NATO ally.”
“We have many views that are similar,” Trump added.
The climate for LGBTQ folks in Brazil has appeared to deteriorate since Bolsonaro took office. The only out gay congressmember in Brazil, Jean Wyllys, was forced to resign his post and flee the country after he was the target of numerous threats in the last year. He was eventually replaced by out gay politician David Miranda, who is married to American journalist Glenn Greenwald.
Trump has similarly taken direct actions against the LGBTQ community since taking office. The president is working to implement his ban on transgender service members, has sought to cut HIV-related funding (despite presenting a plan to eradicate the epidemic in the US by 2030), and launched an assault on LGBTQ families by allowing South Carolina adoption agencies to reject same-sex parents.
In 2017, the Trump administration withdrew a pair of letters by the Obama administration directing schools receiving federal funding to allow transgender students and staff to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.