Jair Bolsonaro, a candidate for President in Brazil’s 2018 election, began his tour of the United States on October 8. George Washington University will host him on October 13, despite widespread criticism of rhetoric that has been described as homophobic, misogynistic, pro-torture, and racist, as reported by The Intercept.
Bolsonaro is a currently member of the Brazilian Congress and has been compared to President Donald Trump for his outlandish statements and populist rhetoric. After President Trump’s election, he tweeted his congratulations, stating “In 2018, Brazil will go the same way!” The Intercept reports that he currently rests between second and third in opinion polling for the 2018 election.
Brazilian activists have decided to protest Mr. Bolsonaro’s events in the United States due to his extreme political views. According to Quartz, he once stated, “I would rather have a dead son over a gay son.” He has also compared homosexuality to pedophilia and attributed homosexuality to drug use. Openly gay Congressman Jean Wyllys once spat on him during a speech to Congress. In 2013, on BBC, he stated “No father would like to have a gay son… We Brazilians don’t like homosexuals”.
Brazil’s LGBTQ community has made major strides in the past decades, but still faces serious challenges. According to Groupo Gay da Bahia, almost half of the world’s anti-gay violence occurs in Brazil, where about one person is killed every day due to homophobia or transphobia, according to the Los Angeles Times. The rise of Mr. Bolsonaro demonstrates the pushback against LGBTQ inclusion in Brazil.
Mr. Bolsonaro’s misogyny is also well documented. According to Financial Times, he told a fellow congresswoman in 2014 that he would not rape her “because she’s ugly and does not deserve it.”
Bolsonaro has also expressed his admiration for the use of torture and other tactics used by Brazil’s 1964-1985 dictatorship. According to Financial Times, he dedicated his impeachment vote against former President Dilma Rouseff to a well-known torturer, stating that he was a “national hero”.
According to Vice News, in 2011, Mr. Bolsonaro was interviewed by an Afro-Brazilian entertainer Preta Gil. During this, he was asked what he would do if his son began dating a black woman. Mr. Bolsonaro responded that he refuses to discuss promiscuity. Additionally, he stated that this situation would never happen in the first place because his sons were “brought up in an educated environment.”
Mr. Bolsonaro’s trip to the United States has worried Brazilian activists who believe he is pretending to be a more moderate figure. He will be meeting with potential donors throughout his trip. According to the GW Hatchet, hundreds of professors and alumni from George Washington University have signed a letter demanding that the school cancel his appearance. These activists fear that his appearance at such a recognized university as George Washington will boost his credibility and obscure his past remarks.