The president of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro used a vile homophobic slur when addressing the public’s fears over COVID-19.
During a speech at the presidential palace on Tuesday, November 10, Bolsonaro demanded that the public stop being a country of ‘maricas’ in their response to COVID-19. This Portuguese term can be translated to mean ‘sissies’ or ‘f*ggots’.
Bolsonaro stated, “I regret the deaths. I really do. But we’re all going to die someday. There’s no use fleeing reality. We have to stop being a country of sissies/f*ggots… We have to face up to it and fight. I hate this sissie/f*ggot stuff.”
In the speech, Bolsonaro made a veiled threat against the American president-elect, Joe Biden. He stated, “Recently, a big-shot presidential candidate said if I didn’t put out the wildfires in the Amazon, he would impose trade sanctions on Brazil. How do you deal with that kind of thing? Diplomacy alone doesn’t work…. You have to have gunpowder. You don’t have to use it. But they have to know you have it.”
Across Brazil, there have been reports of over 5.7 million infections and 163,000 deaths from COVID-19. Despite these alarming figures, the far-right president Bolsonaro contiguously relies on using homophobic language and toxic masculinity to diminish the pandemic’s impact, such as claiming self isolation was “for the weak”, face masks were “for fairies”, and the pandemic must be faced “like a man, not a boy.”
In April, Bolsonaro responded to questions from reporters about COVID-19 by stating, “So what? I’m sorry but what do you want me to do?”
The president of Brazil later added, “I’m sorry for the situation we are currently living with due to the virus. We express our solidarity to those who have lost loved ones, many of whom were elderly. But that’s life, it could be me tomorrow.”
On Tuesday, November 10, Bolsonaro also claimed a personal “victory” after trials were suspended for a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Sinovac Biotech, in partnership with São Paulo’s state-run Butantan Institute. The phase-three testing was stopped after one participant faced an “adverse, serious incident” which researchers said was unrelated to the trial.
Bolsonaro praised the trial’s suspension due to the vaccine’s promotion being linked with his political rival and governor of São Paulo, João Doria. On Facebook, the president wrote, “This is the vaccine Doria wanted to force everyone in São Paulo to take. Another victory for Jair Bolsonaro.”
On Twitter, the speaker of the lower house of Congress, Rodrigo Maia, denounced Bolsonaro’s homophobic comments. He wrote, “Between gunpowder, sissies and the risk of hyperinflation, we have more than 160 thousand dead in the country, a fragile economy and a state in the dark. On behalf of the Chamber of Deputies, I reaffirm our commitment to the vaccine, the independence of regulatory bodies and fiscal responsibility. And to all relatives and friends of victims of the covid-19 our solidarity.”
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