Hate and intolerance have a new stage: Brazil’s House of Representatives. While the legislative body was created for reason and discourse, one of its elected officials has found ways to degrade the federal body by promoting racism and intolerance. Rio de Janeiro’s congressman Jair Bolsonaro is flagrantly using the legislative chamber to make racist comments against blacks and LGBT citizens, and to disseminate militaristic ideals.
During an interview with a national humoristic program, Mr. Bolsonaro was asked how he would feel if he found his son dating a black woman. He took this as an opportunity to make racist comments and indicated that he would “never allow this kind of promiscuity” (youtube video in Portuguese). While this interview was widely publicized and has led to a huge debate about racism in Brazil’s society, it is a shame that an elected official would even dare to speak this way of any civil group or minority. As if that weren’t enough, Mr. Bolsonaro has also expressed his support for military regimes over democratic governments.
It is absurd that an elected official would dare to utter such words. A person that believes that the military regime is better than democracy and who thinks that minorities aren’t humans with equal rights, ought not to be called a legislator. Mr. Bolsonaro is on his sixth consecutive term as Federal Representative for the State of Rio de Janeiro. It has been 21 years since he was first elected… What’s even worse is that he is not alone in his attitude and racist ideals.
Another Representative, this time from the State of Sao Paulo, Mr. Marco Feliciano, wrote in his Twitter account that “the filth in homoaffective feelings are conduits to hate, crime and rejection” and that “Africans descend from ancestors cursed by Noah.”
When elected official make comments such as the ones quoted in this article, racist and oppressive groups feel empowered and justified when attacking vulnerable groups. Just last week, Sao Paulo’s police identified 200 members of skinhead gangs that attacked and in many cases killed members of the black and homosexual communities in the city. According to a Brazilian gay group, 260 LGBT individuals were killed in Brazil in 2010, which represented 31% increase from 2009 and a 113% increase from 2005.
It is disturbing to know that those who are in charge of approving laws to protect society are the same people responsible for spreading hate and intolerance. We will only be able to reduce the number of hate crimes in Brazil when the country’s citizens demand that the rights of everyone, including the country’s minorities, are respected and protected. It is imperative that the legislative system focuses on the creation of laws designed to fight racism and hate crimes. Brazilians deserve better, much better.