The extreme right-wing Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro was outraged on Friday by journalists who questioned him about his son Flavio, who is under investigation for corruption and money laundering. “You have a terrible face as a gay man,” he bit a reporter from O Globo, one of Brazil’s largest newspapers.
Talking to reporters in front of his Palácio da Alvorada work palace, Bolsonaro blamed the press for unilaterally reporting on the judicial investigation into one of his sons, Flavio Bolsonaro, a senator in the Brazilian upper house. He also criticized the investigation by the Public Prosecutor’s Office. That suspects his son of laundering some 500,000 dollars through real estate transactions and a luxury chocolate shop run by Flavio Bolsonaro in Rio de Janeiro.
The money would come from, among others, ‘ghost workers’ who Bolsonaro junior would have appointed as a representative of the state of Rio de Janeiro between 2007 and 2018. According to the indictment, all or part of the salary they received for this job flowed back to Flavio Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro junior denies the accusations.
Part of the investigation is also a cash deposit of about 5000 dollars by Fabrício Queiroz, for decades, a bosom friend of the current Brazilian president, into the account of Michelle Bolsonaro, the president’s wife. Bolsonaro claims that this was a loan he granted to Queiroz. To another question from the reporter of O Globo Friday morning, if he has a receipt of that as well, Bolsonaro answered: “Oh man, ask your mother about the receipt she gave your father, okay? You guys want to see receipts for everything.”
Bolsonaro’s texts were applauded by cheering and clapping supporters who had mingled with the reporters. But the “gay-face” statements aroused the anger of the gay movement and other critics of the president. On social media, many protested with selfies with the text ‘a terrible head like a gay’. One of them was the former homosexual parliamentarian Jean Wyllys, who was often in conflict with Bolsonaro when both were still members of parliament. “With pride” was the addition of Wyllys, who left Brazil earlier this year after various death threats and currently teaches at the Afro-Latin American Research Institute of Harvard University in the United States.
It’s not the first time that Bolsonaro makes hurtful statements about gays. In 2011 he said as a parliament representative “not being able to love a gay son”. “I will not be hypocritical. I’d rather have my son die in an accident than to come home with a mustache man.” “After that, Bolsonaro also said he was “homophobic, with a lot of pride.”
Zero tolerance against corruption
Bolsonaro, who was elected president of Brazil last year with the promise of a zero-tolerance policy against corruption, has long been accusing the Globo media company of conducting a smear campaign against him and his three politically active sons. This morning he complained that news media from Globo, one of Brazil’s largest media conglomerates, are publishing details from the secret investigation concerning Flavio. “Is the investigation secret or not? Reply! Answer, damn it!” he yelled at the assembled reporters. Then he accused the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Rio de Janeiro of having a ‘direct line’ with Globo.
The media concern reacted coolly on Friday in a statement, in which it stated that it was ‘proud to bring great news’ to its audience and that the company ‘is not the first news medium to publish information from the research into Senator Bolsonaro’.