Brazil must reinstate funding for LGBT films because they ‘deserve protection’, judge rules

Brazil Jair Bolsonaro

A federal judge has ruled that Brazil must reinstate suspended funding for LGBT+ films because they “deserve protection”, in a victory for LGBT+ activists and filmmakers.

Jair Bolsonaro’s decision to halt government film grants took away 70 million Brazilian real (US $17.42 million) from around 80 movies, including a small number with LGBT+ content and themes.

The Brazilian president, who has previously described himself as proudly homophobic, said in a livestream in August that funding films with LGBT+ themes was like “throwing money away”. 

One of the targets was Transversais, a five-part documentary series about the lives of five transgender people in Brazil.

Transversais director Emerson Maranhão told Reuters at the time that the president was “harming 80 projects” in order to censor his.

He added: “The first project he called out [during the live stream] was ours, and in such a pejorative and dishonouring way.”

Brazil’s citizenship minister Osmar Terra said that during the funding suspension, the government film agency ANCINE would be restructured in terms of how it allocates funding.

But according to Reuters, on Monday, October 7, judge Laura Carvalho ruled that the ANCINE committee did not have the power to decide how funds would be allocated.

She said: “Freedom of expression, equality and non-discrimination deserve the protection of the Judiciary power.”

Brazil censorship

A demonstrator in Brazil holds a sign which reads “against censorship of culture”. (DOUGLAS MAGNO/AFP/Getty)

Director Maranhão said the fight is not over because the government can still appeal the decision, but added: “Justice was done.

“We are living lonely times, but decisions like this make me feel like we are back to living in a democracy.”

In August, Brazil’s special secretary of culture, Henrique Medeiros Pires, stepped down in protest against president Bolsonaro’s censorship of LGBT+ content on TV.

According to Pires the suspended funding for LGBT+ films was just a “drop of water” in all of the Brazilian government’s efforts to censor culture and artistic freedom.