Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has used his first day in office to issue executive orders targeting the environment, the indigenous population, descendants of slaves, and the LGBTI community.
The far-right former army captain, whose inauguration has seen a spike in the local stock market after new cabinet ministers promised to loosen gun control laws and privatise state-owned companies, was also criticised for restrictions placed on the press during his inauguration, reports the Associated Press.
LGBTI advocate Symmy Larrat responded to the order, saying she wasn’t expecting reasonable treatment from the Bolsonaro government.
“The human rights ministry discussed our concerns at a body called secretariat of promotion and defense of human rights. That body just disappeared, just like that. We don’t see any signs there will be any other government infrastructure to handle LGBT issues,” she said.
The new Minister of Human Rights Damares Alves, an evangelical pastor, has said Brazilian families are being “threatened” by diversity policies.
“The state is lay, but this minister is terribly Christian,” she said during her first address as a minister.
“Girls will be princesses and boys will be princes. There will be no more ideological indoctrination of children and teenagers in Brazil.”
Earlier today Bolsonaro tweeted that the new Minister of Education, Ricardo Vélez Rodríguez, would dismantle a secretariat focused on promoting diversity in public schools and universities to combat what he called the previous government’s focus on creating “slave minds” with “socialist domination”, confirming a prior report from Folha de S.Paulo.
Rodríguez has been vocally critical of the undermining of “family values”, saying that he won’t allow international agencies to influence Brazil with the “aggressive promotion of gender ideology”, echoing Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s ignorant comments about “gender whisperers”.
LGBTI people across Brazil have expressed fears over what the Bolsonaro administration may do to their hard-won rights, with the number of same-sex couples rushing to marry surging and many transgender Brazilians attempting to legally change their name and gender prior to his inauguration.
“I am scared,” Carlos B., a 37 year old man from Rio de Janeiro, told (the American) ABC News.
“We don’t know what is going happen. My husband is pushing to move out but I don’t want to leave my country.”
Bolsonaro is a noted fan of Donald Trump, and the US President tweeted praise for the new Brazilian President following his inauguration address.
Like Trump, Bolsonaro is known for improvising during public addresses, as he did during an inaugural speech when he reportedly omitted a passage promising to promote “reducing social inequality”, which was included in the written remarks already distributed to the media, according to Folha de S.Paulo.
The new administration’s actions could have widespread consequences for a number of minority groups in the country as Bolsonaro continues to make good on his campaign promises.
One of the other executive orders he signed effectively halted the demarcation of land for indigenous communities, affecting native Brazilians and Quilombolas (as descendants of former slaves are known), and opening up the possibility of public land being allotted to private business or agriculture.
A network of local civil society groups, Observatorio do Clima, called the order “only the first step on meeting Bolsonaro’s campaign promises of dismantling environmental governance, stripping indigenous peoples of their rights and opening up indigenous lands for business.”
These executive orders were all signed within hours of Bolsonaro’s inauguration.