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Brazil’s culture secretary resigns over Bolsonaro’s ‘censorship of LGBT TV shows’

Lily Wakefield August 28, 2019
Henrique Medeiros Pires

Henrique Medeiros Pires stepped down as Brazil's secretary of culture. (MINISTÉRIO DA CIDADANIA)

Brazil’s special secretary of culture, Henrique Medeiros Pires, has stepped down in protest against president Jair Bolsonaro’s censorship of LGBT+ content on TV.

Pires announced his resignation to minister of citizenship, Osmar Terra, on Tuesday, August 27.

Last week, Bolsonaro halted funding for films with LGBT+ themes, describing such screenplays as “throwing money away”.

One of the targets was Transversais, a five-part documentary series about the lives of five transgender people in Brazil.

According to Pires, however, the suspended funding was just a “drop of water” in all of the Brazilian government’s efforts to censor culture and artistic freedom.

Artforum reported that Pires said: “Today I had a long talk with minister Osmar Terra and saw that I was out of touch with him and president Bolsonaro.

“I do not agree with this filter, which is actually censorship. Article 220 of the constitution guarantees freedom of expression.”

He reportedly said of Bolsonaro’s comments: “The Federal Supreme Court itself says that homophobia is a crime comparable to racism.”

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, whose elections has worried LGBT rights activists, gestures during a ceremony.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. (Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty)

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro wants to apply “filters” to films funded by the government.

However, Pires told Brazilian publication Folha de S.Paulo“I am not going against anyone, I am just supporting free speech. Either I speak up and get out, or I’ll be complicit.”

In a statement provided for Folha de S.Paulo by the Ministry of Citizenship, the government claimed that Pires did not resign, but rather was asked to leave because “he was not carrying out the policies proposed by the portfolio”.

In July, Jair Bolsonaro threatened to shut down Agencia Nacional do Cinema (ANCINE), the federal film funding agency, if it refused to apply government-backed “filters” on the movies it invested in.

He criticised the agency and said it should support projects that reflect “family values”.

More: Brazil, censorship, Jair Bolsonaro

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