He was the first LGBTQ person to hold Congressional office in the entire country, but now gay Brazil Congressman Jean Wyllys has decided to flee his home due to death threats from anti-gay forces.
Today Jean Wyllys announced he has left Brazil and has no plans to return due to the increasing threats on his life. Wyllys has been a frequent target of attacks from Brazil’s recently elected, staunchly homophobic President Jair Bolsonaro, and according to a statement by the Victory Institute (which seeks to increase the number of LGBTQ holding public office around the world), it’s believed allies of Bolsonaro are behind many of the death threats.
It was March 2018 when Marielle Franco, a close friend and ally of the gay Brazil congressman was shot and killed. Now, just yesterday, the suspects in her death were announced as members of a death squad linked to Bolsonaro’s son.
Jean Wyllys, a lecturer and journalist, was first elected to office in 2010 (and was re-elected to his third term in the 2018 election) but made his resignation announcement today.
Over the past several years, the gay Brazil congressman fought hard to push LGBTQ equality in legislation, and he regularly went head-to-head with conservative opponents in Congress, including Bolsonaro.
In 2017, Wyllys said during the Victory Institute’s international conference:
The dominant forces in our society, which are predominantly tied to evangelical religious groups and the economic elite, launch acts of defamation, calumny and other forms of attacks against me every day of the year.
In 2016, there was a coup against the government [he’s referring to the impeachment of Brazil’s former president Dilma Roussef] that introduced a new hegemony that is homophobic, and racist, and sexist. After that coup, the new government has sought public support by trying to convince the population that corruption is not the primary problem – the primary problems are gays, lesbians, and women. It’s made life very difficult for LGBTQ people and activists trying to make change.
While Brazil’s federal government has officially just lost a fearless voice in support of LGBTQ equality, his need to seek safety of course takes precedent. Here’s hoping that Jean Wyllys and the time he spent in office ultimately inspires many more LGBTQ citizens to seek public office in the future.
What do you think of the news that gay Brazil Congressman Jean Wyllys has left the country due to death threats?
Images taken from the Instagram account of Jean WyllysBrazil Jair Bolsonaro