President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil maintained his reputation of homophobia on December 20 when he told a reporter that his “face looks an awful lot like a homosexual’s.”
Bolsonaro’s comments came in response to questions about a scandal involving his family after prosecutors announced they were probing the president’s son, Senator Flávio Bolsonaro, for allegedly hiring aides who did not do the work they were paid to do. Investigators are also looking into whether the employees laundered their earnings through a chocolate shop owned by the younger Bolsonaro.
“Your face looks an awful lot like a homosexual’s, but that’s no reason to accuse you of being a homosexual,” Bolsonaro said to the reporter, whose name has not been disclosed in media reports about the comments.
According to Brazilian news outlet Globo.com, Bolsonaro later started to express regret in front of reporters, but quickly made it clear he wasn’t about to make an apology.
“To whom did I say was terribly homosexual… is he not here today?” he asked. “Send him a kiss from me! It’s just like football: up front, from time to time, you send your colleague to the [torture chamber], and then go out for a drink with him afterwards. Yes, I make a mistake. I should not have spoken.”
Bolsonaro is no stranger to homophobia, racism, and xenophobia — he once described himself as “homophobic and very proud of it” — and he has only escalated his bigoted rhetoric and actions since he took office earlier this year, mocking gay men by posting a video of some partying during Carnival and warning that Brazil should not become “known as a gay tourism paradise.” His reputation even made a mark in New York City, where he withdrew from an awards ceremony earlier this year after locals — including out gay State Senator Brad Hoylman — expressed outrage over his presence here.
Bolsonaro also drew attention during his visit to the White House on March 19 when he stood next to President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden and said, “May I say that Brazil and the United States stand side by side in their efforts to ensure liberties in respect to traditional family lifestyles, respect to God, our creator against the gender ideology or politically correct attitudes and against fake news.”
If allegations surrounding Bolsonaro’s son are true, the Brazilian president’s family differs from Trump’s by paying people for work they don’t do while the American First Family has a reputation for not paying people for work they do.