Gay Politician Flees Brazil After Receiving Death Threats

Submitted by Take Out on Fri, 01/25/2019 - 15:16

A gay Brazilian politician has said he will not return to the country after receiving death threats.

Jean Wyllys, one of the country's few openly gay congressmen, told a newspaper he had been powerless as his reputation was "destroyed by lies".

He said violence in Brazil had worsened since the election of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro last year.

Mr Bolsonaro has vowed to tackle corruption and crime but has also made racist and homophobic remarks.

However in his inauguration speech earlier this month he promised to build a "society without discrimination or division".

Mr Wyllys' left-wing Party for Socialism and Liberty (PSOL) said he would be replaced in Congress by David Miranda, a member of the Rio de Janeiro city council who is also gay and is married to Pulitzer prize-winning US journalist Glenn Greenwald.

In his interview with Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper, Mr Wyllys, 44, said he had been targeted by defamatory social media campaigns and the threats against him had spread to members of his family.

People had been shoving him in the street despite the presence of his bodyguards, he said, and he was tired of living under protection since the murder of Marielle Franco, another PSOL member.

She was shot dead in Rio de Janeiro last March.

"It was not Bolsonaro's election itself. It was the level of violence that has increased since he was elected," he said.

In a tweet, he said: "Preserving threatened life is also a strategy for fighting for better days."

Mr Wyllys - who rose to fame after winning the Brazilian version of reality TV show Big Brother - said he had made the decision to move abroad after reports that Mr Bolsonaro's son Flavio had employed relatives of a former police officer who is suspected of involvement in Ms Franco's death.

He is currently travelling in Europe and told Folha that his intention was to find a place to study for a PhD.

"I think this political violence in our country now will pass. Perhaps in the future I'll return to this. There are so many other ways to fight for the cause that aren't institutional," he said.

Most Viewed Today

Our Latest Posts