Brazilian congressman Jair Bolonsaro makes Donald Trump look tame by comparison. Credit: Agencia Brazil
LADIES and gentlemen, meet the Donald Trump of Brazil.
On second thought, that’s not really fair to Mr Trump. Next to Brazilian congressman Jair Bolsonaro’s comments, Donald Trump’s infamous “build a wall to keep Mexicans out” remark may as well have been trilled by the Von Trapp children over a merry string quartet.
There is a lengthy list of public remarks and cringe-worthy interviews to explain Bolsonaro’s notoriety.
The ultraconservative politician openly supports torture. He also takes a positive view on the brutal military dictatorship that ruled Brazil for more than two decades.
He has frequently made global headlines over disparaging remarks about black people, gay people and women.
Jair Bolsonaro’s blunt, right-wing remarks have earned him comparisons to U.S. Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.Source:AP
Like Trump, Bolsonaro is often criticised by the left-wing media, and like Trump, he takes this criticism with pride.
“This idea of oh poor little black person, oh poor little poor person, oh poor little woman, oh poor little indigenous person, everybody’s a poor little something!” he told Vice News. “I don’t try and please everybody.”
Also – like Trump – there’s a chance he could very well become the president of his country.
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BOLSONARO ON WOMEN
The media hype surrounding Bolsonaro peaked about a year and a half ago, after his crude comments made to female politician Maria do Rosario were televised.
Do Rosario had been protesting human rights violations committed during the military dictatorship Bolsonaro publicly supports – violations which included torture, rape and murder.
“Stay here, Maria do Rosario,” he said. “A few days ago you called me a rapist.
“And I said I wouldn’t rape you because you’re not worthy of it.”
Do Rosario was outraged, and immediately left the assembly. “I was attacked as a woman, as a Congress member, as a mother,” she said. “When I go home, I have to explain this to my daughter.”
She vowed that she would press criminal charges against him.
But Bolsonaro was completely unphased. He mocked her for leaving, saying she “ran out of here”.
He even uploaded the footage to Twitter to brag about the incident, which he described in the tweet as him “putting Do Rosario in her place”.
The pair had a similar confrontation in 2008, in which he called her a slut after she allegedly called him a rapist.
It should be noted that Members of Congress have parliamentary immunity in Brazil, meaning members on either side can say whatever they like without fear of persecution.
When Page – who happens to be gay – asked him whether he thought she should have been beaten as a child for her sexual orientation, he responded: “You’re very nice. If I were a cadet in the military academy and saw you on the street, I would whistle at you. All right? You’re very pretty.”
She stared at him blankly in response, and he gave no indication he believed he’d said anything wrong.
BOLSONARO ON BLACK PEOPLE
In 2011, Afro-Brazilian singer and actress Preta Gil asked him what he would do if his child fell in love with a black person.
He said he would “never allow this kind of promiscuity”, but added that his “children were very well-educated”, as if to suggest it would therefore not be an issue.
Gil threatened to sue him after the show. “I am a strong black woman,” she said. “I will take it to the end against this racist, homophobic, disgusting deputy.”
A legal investigation was launched, in which Bolsonaro claimed he didn’t understand the question. But things only got worse from there - he said his blunt answer was because he thought she was referring to gay people, not black people.
“If I were racist, I wouldn’t be so crazy as to declare it on television.”
A woman holds a sign reading ‘Black women march against racism, male chauvinism and the coup’ during a protest against conservative Brazilian politicians – including Jair Bolsonaro.Source:AFP
BOLSONARO ON HOMOSEXUALS
Blatant homophobia is perhaps one of Bolsonaro’s most well-known traits internationally. He reflects and gives fuel to a sizeable number of his country’s religious conservatives and Neo-Nazi skinheads.
On the outside, Brazil may appear to totally embrace homosexuality. There is no law forbidding LGBT people from serving in the Brazilian Armed Forces, and their laws do not prohibit same-sex couples from adopting children.
It’s also home to some of the most sexually liberal parties on the planet, such as Carnivale.
Considering the country legalised same-sex marriage in 2013, you might even argue they’re more progressive with gay rights than Australia.
Judging by Brazil’s Carnivale party, you wouldn’t think it was a sexually restrictive country.Source:News Corp Australia
But Brazil is frequently rated as the country where the most gay people are killed.
According to the country’s largest and most active gay organisation, Grupo Gay da Bahia, a member of the Brazilian LGBT community is murdered every two days due to homophobia.
In fact, according to LGBTQ Nation, nearly half the world’s anti-LGBT violence occurs in Brazil.
Bolsonaro is publicly homophobic, and unapologetic for his views. In 2013, the government sought to pass a bill to outlaw homophobia and educate Brazilian youth on the damage it causes. Bolsonaro was determined to block the law, publicly campaigning against it.
In 2011, he said he would rather his son die in a car accident than be gay. He also said the presence of a gay couple at his house would cause the value of his house to depreciate.
There are even reports he has compared same-sex marriage to paedophilia, and encouraged the physical abuse of children believed to be gay.
In a 2013 interview with Stephen Fry for the BBC program Out There, Bolsonaro explained his beliefs, and addressed the suggestion his comments could be fuelling anti-gay violence across the country.
“There are groups that want to use (gay hate crimes) as an example. It might not even have anything to do with homosexuality,” he said.
“It is labelled as such by gay groups who want to make use of the incident, and create a public sob story.”
Bolsonaro outwardly denied that hate crimes committed against homosexuals are based on their sexual orientation, and – ironically – denied homophobia exists in Brazil.
He claimed 90 per cent of gay victims die “in places of drug use and prostitution, or are killed by their own partner.”
“I went into battle with the gays because the government proposed anti-homophobia for the junior grades,” said Bolsonaro. “That would actively stimulate homosexuality in children from six years old.
“They want to reach our children in order to turn the children into gay adults to satisfy their sexuality in the future. These are the fundamentalist homosexual groups that are trying to take over society.
“This is not normal.”
A gay pride march in Sao Paulo, Brazil.Source:AP
He said Brazil was not ready to accept homosexuality as a social norm.
“No father would ever take pride in having a gay son. Pride? Happiness? Celebration if it turns out his son is gay? No way.”
Upon further questioning, he even compared his dislike for homosexuals to the public’s dislike of the Taliban.
Despite this, and despite openly saying “We Brazilian people don’t like homosexuals”, he insisted people are not hunted or persecuted for their sexual orientations in Brazil.
SO, COULD THIS MAN BE PRESIDENT?
Bolsonaro’s popularity is no doubt on the rise.
His Facebook page has just under three million Likes – about 700 million more than former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Crowds flock to him to take selfies when he makes public appearances, and according to a Datafolha survey conducted earlier this month, his base of supporters has doubled since December.
Considering that in 2012, 77 per cent of the population supported the explicit criminalisation of homophobia, perhaps these results are not terribly surprising.
The greatest irony of all? Bolsonaro’s political group is called the ‘Progressive Party’.