Ireland’s Brazilian LGBT community express fear following Bolsonaro win

Brazilians living in Ireland express mix of relief and concern following election of far-right candidate

Supporters of Brazilian far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro celebrate his victory at the Paulista Avenue, in Sao Paulo. Photograph: EPA/Fernando Bizerra

Supporters of Brazilian far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro celebrate his victory at the Paulista Avenue, in Sao Paulo. Photograph: EPA/Fernando Bizerra

 

Brazilians living in Ireland, particularly members of the LGBT community, have expressed serious concerns following the victory of far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro in the Brazilian presidential election.

Mr Bolsonaro promised to defend the country’s constitution after wining just over 55 per cent of the vote in Sunday’s election compared to less than 45 per cent for the Workers’ party candidate Fernando Haddad.

However, Brazilians who oppose Mr Bolsonaro worry that he will roll back on civil rights. The former army captain has also shown prejudices towards women, gays, blacks and refugees.

Anderson Pordeus, who has lived in Ireland for just over a year, said Mr Bolsonaro’s win will legitimise the use of hate speech towards minorities and that he now feels uncomfortable about visiting Brazil as a gay man.

“There is lots of news coming out now of attacks happening close to LGBT nightclubs, in the country that most kills LGBT people in the world. It is making me reconsider to visit my own country next year.”

Fabio da Silva* also expressed fear for the safety of the LGBT community.

“As a Brazilian homosexual man, I am devastated and fearing for my friends’ lives and also mine if at some point I have to go back there. I have friends that suffered verbal aggressions, friends that just like me are terrified with all this hate and risk of dying just for our existence.”

Jane Xavier, who has lived in Ireland for 12 years, said the large public vote for the far-right candidate comes in response to years of corruption within the Brazilian political system.

“He does make an impact and I can see why some people wanted to show their hate against the Workers Party. After so much corruption, violence and recession people think making this change will offer hope when actually I can’t see this happening. For me, we’ve going backwards. It feels like we’re going back to the dark ages.”

Social infrastructure

Rafael Agapito, who has lived in Ireland since 2005, says that while he does not directly support Mr Bolsonaro’s policies, he hopes the change in leadership will positively affect Brazil’s economic and social infrastructure.

“He puts his views across very eloquently and people like that. I think something drastic needed to happen so it may be good for the country. I’m happy the Workers’ party didn’t win but also apprehensive about what’s going to happen. I’m not saying he’s gonna save the country but there might be a step forwards towards change and progress.”

A spokeswoman for the Brazilian Left Front (BLF) campaign organisation said the group was preparing to send a letter to President Michael D Higgins addressing their concerns “regarding the safety of the Brazilian people, in particular minorities” following the election of Mr Bolsonaro.

“People have already been killed during the presidential campaign and the violence intensified in the aftermath of the elections,” the BLF spokeswoman told The Irish Times, adding that university professors and journalists would also be at risk under the new administration. “We expect solidarity from Ireland due their recent history of fighting against oppression and for democracy.”

*Requested use of pseudonym to protect identity for fear of persecution