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At a time when students and citizens of our country struggle to save the spirit and uphold the constitution, there comes another news of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, invited as the chief guest for the Republic day. We must not overlook how our R-Day chief guest Jair Bolsonaro is an addition to the list of controversies that the current government is facilitating. President Bolsonaro has unabashedly made not only atrocious statements but policies that endanger women, LGBTQ+ community and also indigenous groups in Brazil.

Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right president, is infamously known globally for his regressive stances on abortion, anti-affirmative action, homosexuality and secularism. When India is trying to sustain and safeguard some of these basic human rights, this invitation is an erroneous decision of the BJP government. This invitation sends a rather inappropriate message to our country when individuals belonging to the minority and the marginalised communities feel threatened by the legislative policies undertaken by the present government. 

We must not overlook how our R-Day chief guest Jair Bolsonaro is an addition to the list of controversies that the current government is facilitating. President Bolsonaro has unabashedly made not only atrocious statements but policies that endanger women, LGBTQ+ community and also indigenous groups in Brazil.

Here are a few things we should know about President Jair Bolsonaro, and why women, LGBTQ+, environmentalists and indigenous people are fiercely critical of him in Brazil.

War on Gender ideology 

According to Al Jazeerza,President Jair Bolsonaro…directed the Ministry of Education to draft a Bill to prohibit the inclusion of gender issues in elementary schools.” Bolsonaro, has been known in Brazil for his regressive stances on the idea of gender, sexuality and same-sex marriages. The whole idea behind the Bill, disallows elementary school students to learn about gender issues and question the constructs that they find themselves in. This dismantling of the very socialisation process within school prohibits school students a chance to be gender sensitive and learn critical gender issues.

Also read: The Perils Of Heteronormativity: How Inclusive Is Our Definition Of Sex?

He had started his anti-gender crusade since 2011, when he had banned the distribution of educational kits. These kits were aimed at battling homophobia and also discrimination in schools which he termed them as “gay kits”. President Bolsonaro, believed that it threatened the “natural” sexual binary of the kids. Jair Bolsonaro has also made various comments throughout his political career against homosexuality and has also implicitly encouraged gender insensitivity and discrimination within Brazil. 

Image Source: Al Jazeera

Environmental Concerns

Soon after his elections President Bolsonaro had launched an attack on the environment and the Amazon rainforest with an executive order, “transferring the regulation and the creation of new indigenous reserves to the agriculture ministry controlled by powerful agribusiness lobby.”  As we saw the Amazon rainforest being engulfed by fires, sources state, 125000 hectares of the Brazilian rainforest were cleared through 2019 and then burned in August. It is suspected by critics that the rhetoric used by Bolsonaro actually encouraged ruralists to deforest the Amazon.

Jair Bolsonaro has also been inefficient in following the Paris agreement, as he made the Amazon rainforest open to greater “development” which would work in contrary to the promises made to reduce carbon emissions. His rhetoric has led him to be labelled as “climate-skeptic”. Bolsonaro had also come under global scrutiny for his response to this environmental catastrophe wherein he has dismantled “environmental and indigenous policies”.

Image Source: The Washington Post

Human Rights And Gun Laws

Jurema Werneck, executive director of Amnesty International Brazil, said, “The Bolsonaro administration has adopted measures that threaten the rights to life, health, freedom, land and territory of Brazilians who, whether they live in urban or rural areas, simply want to live their lives with dignity and free from fear.” Bolsonaro has been continually making changes in policies since he was elected president of the world’s fourth largest democracy, that threatens the whole democratic fabric of Brazil. 

Bolsonaro has been continually making changes in policies since he was elected president of the world’s fourth largest democracy, that threatens the whole democratic fabric of Brazil. 

Bolosnaro has also loosened the gun laws, and it is argued by the critics that doing so would lead to an increase in homicide levels in Brazil. According to Al Jazeera it allowed “good citizens” to buy 4 guns to keep them at home and not carry in public. It was reported that out of 210 million citizens 3,30,000 have registered to own guns and while the Justice ministry says that there are nearly 8 million illegal weapons in the country. “A group that monitors violence says data shows that increase in number of fire arms in circulation correlates to the rise in number of gun related deaths.

Rise in Violence Against Women and LGBTQ+ Community

Almost a year into his Presidency, Brazil has been witnessing a frightening “rise in violence against women in all forms: aggression, femicide and rape.The Guardian, quotes that, “Femicides rose by more than 4%”. His previous comments regarding women and homosexuality caused stir and has led to the rise of right-wing conservatism in Brazil, that might have attributed to the rise in violence especially against women and the LGBTQ+ community.

When India is amidst a crisis of its own to safeguard the rights of minorities and to secure the constitutional values, President Bolsonaro stands for everything that our country at this critical juncture rejects from homophobic comments to the systemic attack on minorities and indigenous group. This far-right president-elect has also abolished the human rights ministry leading to a creation of the new ministry which would oversee women, family and human rights by the evangelical preacher and new minister, Damares Alves. This new ministry is proof how Bolsonaro and his government have continually undermined human rights.

Image Source- The Guardian

Also read: #AbortionMeraHaq: Because Safe Abortions Save Lives

Damares Alves, the minister who heads the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights is a right wing-conservative evangelical leader, who has made several anti-abortion statements, none of which have been condemned by the government. Her continuous reiteration of patriarchal and traditional values receive support from this far-right government headed by Bolsonaro. The very denial and condemnation of reproductive rights resonates how his government has been working with heteronormative patriarchal and religiously conservative ideology. These policies and statements threaten the progress women, Transpersons and the LGBTQ+ community has made in Brazil.

It would be naive to ignore what Jair Bolsonaro represents when he is invited as a Republic Day chief guest on 26 January, 2020. This date marks a celebration when the Indian National Congress, had declared Purna Swaraj during the freedom struggle. It also marks the date when the Constitution of India came to be formally enforced wherein we would uphold the values of justice, liberty and equality.

President Jair Messias Bolsonaro has come under scrutiny for his policies on environment, human rights and his absurd attack on “gender ideology”. He represents all things patriarchal, heteronormative, conservative and regressive which we must condemn against the backdrop of the regressive policies that our very own government has enacted from the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 to the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019.  


Featured Image Source: New Indian Express

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