We rightly acknowledge —especially those of us who are a little older—just how much freer and fairer our society has become for LGBTQI people in a short time. We usually do not stop to think that if equality has come so far and so fast, it could be eroded just as quickly. We cannot stop building solidarity around gender, sexuality, race, religion, disability and class. This is about not just policies, but exchanging stories and coming to understand each other better. Our mission is to resist those who spread lies, fear and division, and to keep on with positive conversations about who we are, how we are different, and how we are the same.
I will concentrate on just three issues on which the Government’s response must be stronger. First, I want to know when we are going to get moving on reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004. No matter how difficult the debate, we have to find the courage to help some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. Secondly, I want to know why PrEP is not being rolled out to absolutely everyone who needs it without delay, because it raises the genuine hope that we can end HIV transmission entirely. That is incredibly exciting, so why are we not acting faster? Thirdly, I want to know why our Government are not treating President Bolsonaro of Brazil as the active threat to LGBTQI people that he clearly is, and I need to speak strongly on that issue.
Bolsonaro has used homophobic slurs as weapons against his political opponents, straight and LGBTQI alike, over and over again. He has repeated the incredibly damaging lie that LGBT parents are child abusers. He has repeated the lie that young people are recruited into being LGBT by activists who are simply in pursuit of sex. Just last month, he presented gay tourists, including British citizens, as a threat to Brazilian families. He has already acted to remove the responsibility to protect the rights of LGBT Brazilians from the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights in a country where more than 100 trans people, and many more queer folk, are murdered every single year.
Most despicably, Bolsonaro is a man who has encouraged parents to beat their children if they do not conform, who has explicitly endorsed violence against gay couples on the streets, and who has said repeatedly that he would prefer his sons to die rather than be gay—he would prefer them to be run over by a truck. This is a man who took a smiling selfie with his neighbour, the police officer charged with murdering the heroic bisexual councillor Marielle Franco last year. She was murdered for her human rights activism, and Bolsonaro alone refused to condemn her murder.
I want to finish by mentioning one specific case among many hundreds. In 2014, after Bolsonaro had made his comments about beating children who are not acting in line with their parents’ gender expectations, an eight-year-old boy was murdered by his father near Rio. He was beaten because he liked having long hair, because he liked to dance, because he tried on his sister’s clothes and because he liked helping to wash the dishes. Because he did not fit, his father beat him until he was dead. I can only conclude that Bolsonaro would have approved. He appears to me to be a vicious misogynist, transphobe and homophobe, and a clear danger to LGBTQI Brazilians and visitors alike. I think him reprehensible.
I want to hear the Government tell the truth about Bolsonaro and tell me what action they are going to take to oppose this evil. That is the very least we can do for that murdered child and so many other LGBTQI people who are living in absolute fear in Brazil today.