Henrique Medeiros Pires, Brazil’s special Culture Secretary, has stepped down in protest over Bolsonaro’s funding cuts to LGBT+ films and screenplays.
Pires announced his resignation on Tuesday, August 27 to the Minister of Citizenship.
Last week, following a Facebook Live appearance where he criticised projects with “sexual diversity content”, President Bolsonaro of Brazil ordered funding be stopped for LGBT+ films and screenplays.
During the Facebook Live, Bolsonaro focused on an LGBT+ television series called Afronte which deals with the lives of young gay men. He questioned why anyone would want to make a programme “to show the reality lived by black homosexuals in Brasilia or the private life of whoever it is” and continued by saying the show would be cut.
All funding was then removed from the series, prompting its creator, Bruno Victor, to respond, “I feel very vulnerable to realise I produce content the president does not tolerate. It is important to state Bolsonaro’s act is a kind of censorship. He spoke of our project with ignorance and lack of respect for all professionals involved in it.”
Since then, further funds have been stopped from other films and screenplays with LGBT+ content including a documentary series about the lives of transgender people.
Artforum reported that Pires said: “Today I had a long talk with minister Osmar Terra and saw that I was out of touch with him and president Bolsonaro.
“I do not agree with this filter, which is actually censorship. Article 220 of the constitution guarantees freedom of expression.”
In regards to Bolsonaro’s recent comments, Pires reportedly said: “The Federal Supreme Court itself says that homophobia is a crime comparable to racism.”
The former culture secretary told Brazillian publication Folha de S.Paulo: “I am not going against anyone, I am just supporting free speech. Either I speak up and get out, or I’ll be complicit.”
In a statement released to Folha de S.Paulo by the Ministry of Citizenship, the government claimed that Pires did not resign, but was asked to step down because “he was not carrying out the policies proposed by the portfolio”.
Last month, Bolsonaro warned ANCINE (Agencia Nacional do Cinema) – the federal film funding agency – that it would be closed down unless it followed governmental directives on the type of movies it could fund. All works moving forward should be focused on “family values”, the agency were told.
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