British writer and actor Stephen Fry has issued a heartfelt appeal to Brazilian voters to reject far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro and his vision for the country in the October general election.
Fry begins by acknowledging that it isn’t the place of a British man to tell Brazilians how to vote, but that he was prompted to make his statement due to his “alarm” at Bolsonaro’s steady rise.
Bolsonaro is now leading the polls and survived a stabbing attack earlier this month. When the two met, he was the far-right Rio de Janeiro congressman who opposed the introduction of anti-homophobia programmes in schools.
The encounter with Bolsonaro left a lasting impression on Fry. In his programme, he dubbed the meeting “one of the most chilling confrontations I’ve ever had with a human being.”
In the video, Fry repeated that assessment, adding: “I really felt I was looking into some very dead and frightening eyes indeed.” He described that, outside of the camera view, Bolsonaro was accompanied by a group of guards that were “frightening enough.”
“He lives in a fantasy world of militarism which I find deeply upsetting and frightening,” he said.
Referring to Bolsonaro’s divisive rhetoric, Fry added: “The speech he uses against people of colour, women and the LGBTQ community in particular is genuinely terrifying and will result in more broken heads on pavement, more blood spilled, more torture, more killing, more unhappiness, less acceptance, more crying parents. That can’t be right.”
“Surely Brazil is better than this. Brazil is better than Bolsonaro,” Fry concluded.
A YouTube clip of the interview in which Bolsonaro made a series of extraordinary statements, such as denying that homophobia exists because “the majority of homosexual deaths—they die in drug-related situations, prostitution or even killed by their own partners” and claiming that “no father would ever take pride in having a gay son,” has resurfaced in the run to the election.
Bolsonaro, a former military officer, was condemned in November to pay the equivalent of £28,000 for “collective moral damage” after he said on a TV show in 2011 he didn’t have a gay son because his children received “a good education.” On another occasion, Bolsonaro said he’d rather his son be dead than gay.
In 2017, that estimate rose to at least 445 LGBT+ cases of fatal homophobic or transphobic violence—an all-time-high, according to research conducted by Group Gay de Bahia.