Jair Bolsonaro, a staunchly anti-LGBTQ politician and leading contender in Brazil’s presidential race, is recovering from major surgery after being stabbed last Friday.
Bolsonaro was attacked by a lone assailant at a rally in Juiz de Fora, suffering a life-threatening wound to his intestines that caused him to lose nearly 40% of his blood.
The incident has actually given him a small boost his popularity. After the attack, a poll found his approval went from 26% to 30%.
Bolsonaro has a history of making homophobic comments, including declaring he’d rather his son die than tell him he was gay. “I would be incapable of loving a gay son. I prefer that he die in an accident,” Bolsonaro, leader of the right-wing Social Liberal Party, told Playboy in 2011. (Doesn’t sound very “social liberal,” does it?)
“No father would ever take pride in having a gay son,” he told out actor and activist Stephen Fry in 2013. “Pride? Happiness? Celebrate if his son turns out gay? No way.”
And currently the 63-year-old congressman is leading the polls. While his homophobic and misogynist rhetoric has alienated many, it’s endeared him to millions of pro-life evangelicals. A Datafolha poll suggests Bolsonaro would win the first round with an 11-point lead over his nearest rival, progressive Ciro Gomes. He’s less likely to win in a run-off election, though, which would happen if no candidate received more than 50% of the votes.
Jair Bolsonaro has ratcheted up the anti-LGBTQ sentiment on the campaign trail. Just last month he told Time magazine if he saw two men kissing he’d punch them. “I do not kiss my wife on the street. Why face society? Why take that into the school? Little children of 6 or 7, watching two men kiss as the government wanted them to do. Is this democracy?”
He’s also equated homosexuality with pedophilia:
Look, you have to have some sort of moral compass bearing in your life. They want to reach our children in order to turn the children into gay adults to satisfy their sexuality in the future. So these are the fundamentalist homosexual groups that are trying to take over society.
Jair Bolsonaro claims pro-LGBTQ politicians are trying to force anti-homophobia classes in elementary school, which would “actively stimulate homosexuality in children from 6 years old.”
“Over time, due to liberal habit, drugs, with women also working, the number of homosexuals has really increased,” he told Ellen Page on an episode of Vice’s Gaycation series, adding, “If your son starts hanging out with certain people with a certain behavior, he’ll adopt that sort of behavior. He’ll think it’s normal.”
Fellow candidate Ciro Gomes has spoken out in favor of LGBTQ rights, telling attendees at a diversity forum in May, “My voice will also be your voice,” and, “I’m going to put it in my written government platform. I want this fight so that the last thing anyone will ever be able to say about me is that I stigmatized or discriminated against anyone just for their sexual orientation. This is absolutely medieval, and we need to debate this in Brazil, with great humility, with patience and while respecting the well-intentioned Brazil that is there, but without giving space for opportunistic elitism or corruption.”
Without naming Bolsonaro, Gomes criticized “cowardly” politicians “who present themselves with a lot of homophobia. I think they’re afraid to leave the closet.” (Insert mic drop here.)
Brazil has the highest murder rate of LGBTQ people in the world, with more than one gay, bi or trans person killed each day. But Bolsonaro insists, “There is no homophobic behavior in Brazil.”
“Those who die, 90% of homosexual deaths, they die in drug-related situations, prostitution or even killed by their own partners,” he says with nothing to back up the claim.
The Brazilian presidential elections will take place Oct. 7–28, 2018.