Brazil’s new ‘proud homophobe’ President Jair Bolsonaro takes office

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gestures during a ceremony of presentation of new diplomats' credentials at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on March 8, 2019.

Brazil’s LGBT+ community is braced for regressive steps as the country’s new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro takes office.

The nationalist politician was sworn into office on January 1, after claiming victory in the Catholic country’s October election.

Bolsonaro, who describes himself as “homophobic and very proud of it”, came to power following a groundswell of Trump-style support despite his extreme and frequent attacks on LGBT+ people.

President Jair Bolsonaro: I would prefer a dead son to a gay son

The politician told Playboy in 2011 that he would rather his son die than be gay, saying: “I would be incapable of loving a gay son. I prefer that he die in an accident.”

During the campaign, Bolsonaro said that he stood by his claim that he would punch gay people if he saw them kissing in public.

Standing by the comments, the candidate compared gay kisses to “a paedophile’s right to have sex with a 2-year-old.”

Jair Bolsonaro, far-right lawmaker and presidential candidate, casts his vote in October

Jair Bolsonaro, far-right lawmaker and presidential candidate of the Social Liberal Party (PSL), arrives to cast his vote on October 28, 2018 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Ricardo Moraes-Pool/Getty)

He told TIME: “I do not kiss my wife on the street. Why face society? Why take that into the school? Little children of 6 or 7, watching two men kiss as the government wanted them to do. Is this democracy?”

Gay couples have rushed to marry in the country ahead of Bolsonaro’s inauguration, hoping to safeguard their legal status in case the new leader opts to use his powers to attack LGBT+ people.

Same-sex marriage has been legal across Brazil since a 2013 ruling by the National Justice Council, but there are no federal protections against discrimination for LGBT+ people.

Bolsonaro’s rise has imperilled the already-fragile status of LGBT+ rights in the country with warnings about “fundamentalist homosexual groups that are trying to take over society.”

He claimed in a 2013 interview with British actor Stephen Fry: “90 percent of homosexual deaths, they die in drug-related situations, prostitution, or even killed by their own partners.

“I went into battle with the gays because the government proposed anti-homophobia classes for the junior grades, but that would actively stimulate homosexuality in children from six years old.

“This is not normal.”

He added: “No father would ever take pride in having a gay son. Pride? Happiness? Celebrate if his son turns out gay? No way.”

Donald Trump to Jair Bolsonaro: ‘The USA is with you’

US President Donald Trump tweeted a message of congratulations to Bolsonaro as he was inaugurated, writing: “Congratulations to President @JairBolsonaro who just made a great inauguration speech – the U.S.A. is with you!”

Bolsonaro responded: “Dear Mr. President @realDonalTrump, I truly appreciate your words of encouragement. Together, under God’s protection, we shall bring prosperity and progress to our people!”