The government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, sworn in to power in January, wasted no time implementing its pro-family policies. Damares Alves, an evangelical pastor who was named the new government’s Minister of Women, Family, and Human Rights, said on her first day in her new portfolio, “girls wear pink, and boys wear blue,” and “girls will be princesses, and boys will be princes.” Aside from the catch-phrases, Alves said, “There will be no more ideological indoctrination of children and teenagers in Brazil.”
To make that a reality, last month Education Minister Ricardo Velez Rodriguez announced the end of LGBQT material in the country’s school curricula. He also shut down the offices responsible for diversity and human rights, which he said is devoted to promoting the study of gender theory in classrooms. Bolsonaro himself announced that textbooks used in state schools would be revised to eliminate references to homosexuality and same-sex “marriage.” That reinforced new guidelines announced in January by the Ministry of Education for textbook publishers that erased references to gender ideology and homosexuality. The Washington Postreported that following the announcement at the national level, several state and local ministries of education began scrapping references to gender ideology and homosexualism in their curricula.
Cleber Cabral Siedschlag, coordinator of Front for the Defense of the Christian Family, a Brazilian organization, said of the moves to remove gender theory from the schools, “Gender ideology is a field of study with no scientific backing that causes confusion for children in development because it negates the biological identity of the child and destroys distinctions between masculine and feminine. It is an extremely grave social experiment.”
Prior to his inauguration, Bolsonaro said one of his government’s goals was “to get Brazil out of the worst positions in international education rankings” by combating “the Marxist rubbish that has spread in educational institutions.” Among the “Marxist rubbish,” according to Velez Rodriguez was the “aggressive promotion of the gender ideology.”
Without expounding on what he means, Velez Rodriguez told Vejamagazine “Our kids and teenagers must receive citizenship education, which teaches how to act according to the law and morality.”
During his Jan. 1 inaugural address, Bolsonaro said, “We will unite people, value the family, respect religions and our Judeo-Christian tradition, combat gender ideology and rescue our values.”
Alves announced that LGBTQ+ is specifically excluded from her mandate of her new department, the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Ricardo Barros directed material about the prevention of sexually transmitted infections among individuals who identify as transgender removed from the government website. The government is also removing activists from the bureaucracy, firing a trans activist who headed the government’s HIV prevention task force.
In recent years, courts have extended LGBQT+ rights which has been met with bills being introduced to roll back those rights. With one in six deputies in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower chamber of the Brazilian congress, now an evangelical Christian and the strong popularity of President Bolsonaro, who is willing to speak out against the LGBQT agenda, there is a possibility that the court-imposed gay and trans rights could be reversed. While Bolsonaro’s Social Liberal Party does not have a majority in either legislative chamber, the President says he will work to build coalitions on an issue-by-issue basis.
Márcio Labre, a Social Liberal member of the Chamber of Deputies, introduced a bill to outlaw the sale and use of contraceptives, including the birth control pill, morning-after pill, and intrauterine devices, which Labre called “micro abortions.” After an intense media campaign, he pulled the bill and replaced it with a motion to study the abortive effects of contraception and their effects on the health of women.