2020 Republic Day parade: Chief guest Jair Bolsonaro dubbed as 'Trump of Tropics' has history of controversial comments on race, women and homosexuality

FP Staff

Editor's Note: This article was first published on 24 January 2020. It is being republished in view of the 71st Republic Day parade, where Brazilian President Jair Bolsanaro is in attendance as the chief guest.

Last week, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro accepted Prime Minister Narendra Modi's invitation to be the chief guest at the 2020 Republic Day parade.

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Bolsonaro, a former military captain, who was sworn in as Brazil's president on 2 January, is a polarising figure who has come under fire for his controversial comments on women, race and homosexuals. He has praised Brazil's former dictatorship, vowed to fight against political correctness and been described as the "apologist of dictators" by The Economist.

"Political correctness is a thing of leftist radicals," he said in an interview with daily newspaper Correio Braziliense. "I am one of the most attacked persons."

Bolsonaro caused a stir in May when he issued a decree enabling a wide range of professions, including truckers, politicians and even some journalists, to carry weapons without having to prove why they needed them. Weeks later, he revised the original order to restrict "common citizens" to carrying handguns, but not rifles in public. In 2017, he controversially said that "a policeman who doesn't kill isn't a policeman". 

"Trump of Tropics"

Bolsonaro is often compared to US president Donald Trump, with the Brazilian media dubbing him the "Trump of Tropics". Both have been seen supporting each other in multiple instances: For example when Bolsonaro gave his inauguration speech, Trump tweeted "the USA is with you!".

Trump has also boosted Brazil's status as a US military ally, easing the path for the Latin American giant to buy more sophisticated weaponry. The right-wing leader, like Trump, is also critical of the landmark Paris Climate Accord.

In a live broadcast on Facebook, the Brazilian president said, "Let's make Brazil Great! Let's be proud of our homeland once again!", a chant that had echoes of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

The US president also backed Bolsonaro when he was put under the spotlight for environmental policies that led to a rapid acceleration in deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, which covers vast swathes of Brazil and is considered vital to combating global warming.

Let's look at the controversial statements made by the 'Trump of the Tropics':

'Brazil should not become gay tourism paradise'

Bolsonaro has come under the scrutiny of the LGBTQ community after he said in April Brazil should not become a "gay tourism paradise".

"If you want to come here and have sex with a woman, go for your life [sic]," the far-right leader reportedly told journalists in the capital, Brasília.

During a 2013 interview with the British actor Stephen Fry €" who is gay and is a proponent for LGBTQ rights €" Bolsonaro claimed that "homosexual fundamentalists" were brainwashing heterosexual children to "become gays and lesbians to satisfy them sexually in the future". He further added that no parent is "proud of having a gay child" and said that if a kid starts acting a "little gay" one should beat them up and they'll "change".

In previous interviews, he also said he would rather have a dead son than a homosexual son.

He's also made homophobic remarks on several other occasions, by saying that "A child adopted by a gay couple has a 90 percent chance of also becoming gay and a male prostitute. The next step is legalizing pedophilia."

'Not worth raping'

Bolsonaro has had a history of problematic statements regarding women politicians and journalists.

During his 27-year career as in Congress, he once told a colleague 'I wouldn't rape you because you don't deserve it'.

In another instance, he was reported as saying: "I've got five kids. Four of them are men, but on the fifth I had a moment of weakness and it came out a woman." 

In 2016, he said during an interview with a TV presenter that he wouldn't "employ a woman with the same salary as a man" because women get pregnant.

'Scum of the world'

Bolsonaro once dismissed a black settlement in Brazil founded by the descendants of slaves as "not even good for procreation." He said, "The scum of the earth (immigrants) is showing up in Brazil, as if we didn't have enough problems of our own to sort out."

In a speech at Rio de Janeiro's Hebraica Club in April 2017, Bolsonaro referred to black activists as "animals" who should "go back to the zoo" and called immigrants "scum of the world". He said, "I went to visit a quilombo. The lightest afrodescendant there weighed seven arrobas [more than 100kg]. They don't do anything. I don't think they're even good for procreating anymore."

During an interview aired by the Bandeirantes TV network , Bolsonaro responded to a question about what he would do if his son fell in love with a black woman."I don't run the risk [of seeing my children date black women or being gay]. My children were very well raised."

With inputs from agencies

Also See: Republic Day celebrations 2020: Chief guest Jair Bolsonaro is soft on gun control, ambivalent to environmental concerns

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