President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro (Andressa Anholete/Getty Images)
Brazil’s homophobic president Jair Bolsonaro reportedly refused to wear a face mask because he thought they were ‘too gay’ – before he tested positive for coronavirus.
The far-right leader tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, after months of minimising the impact of the virus and downplaying its potential threat.
According to Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo, earlier in the crisis Bolsonaro had mocked advice to wear a face masks – telling staff members who wore them that they were “coisa de viado” – a homophobic slur which means “for fairies”.
He appeared in public not wearing a mask on a number of occasions, including while meeting foreign officials and members of the public, even as the virus began to spread throughout Brazil.
The unverified report would not be a particular surprise from Bolsonaro, a self-described “proud homophobe” who has made his career out of crude homophobic rhetoric and targeting minorities.
Dangerous, deadly and the cause of harm to millions, Jair Bolsonaro has been infected with coronavirus
Many Brazilians have taken to social media to offer their best wishes to coronavirus following the president’s diagnosis, with #ForçaCorona (Stay strong corona) – trending in the country on Tuesday.
Unlike in other countries, action in Brazil has largely been driven by local and regional leaders, due to Bolsonaro’s refusal to tackle the crisis.
Bolsonaro said: “In my particular case, with my history as an athlete, if I were infected with the virus, I would have no reason to worry, I would feel nothing, or it would be at most just a little flu.”
In the speech he also attacked regions who had imposed lockdowns. He said: “We must return to normality. The few states and city halls should abandon their scorched-earth policies.”
Needless to say, Bolsonaro perpetuated multiple myths about the virus by comparing it to flu, and claiming that he – a 65-year-old who would be considered in the at-risk group – would not be adversely impacted.
Brazil has since become one of the countries most severely impacted by the virus as it surges through south America.
Leader has spent a long time cementing himself as one of the world’s most homophobic leaders.
The Brazilian president is reviled as one of the world’s most homophobic leaders.