Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro refused to wear a face mask because he thought they were ‘too gay’. Now he’s got coronavirus

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro

Brazil’s homophobic president Jair Bolsonaro reportedly refused to wear a face mask because he thought they were ‘too gay’ – before he tested positive for coronavirus.

The far-right leader tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, after months of minimising the impact of the virus and downplaying its potential threat.

According to Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo, earlier in the crisis Bolsonaro had mocked advice to wear a face masks – telling staff members who wore them that they were “coisa de viado” – a homophobic slur which means “for fairies”.

He appeared in public not wearing a mask on a number of occasions, including while meeting foreign officials and members of the public, even as the virus began to spread throughout Brazil.

The unverified report would not be a particular surprise from Bolsonaro, a self-described “proud homophobe” who has made his career out of crude homophobic rhetoric and targeting minorities.

Dangerous, deadly and the cause of harm to millions, Jair Bolsonaro has been infected with coronavirus

Many Brazilians have taken to social media to offer their best wishes to coronavirus following the president’s diagnosis, with #ForçaCorona (Stay strong corona) – trending in the country on Tuesday.

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Unlike in other countries, action in Brazil has largely been driven by local and regional leaders, due to Bolsonaro’s refusal to tackle the crisis.

The Brazilian leader downplayed coronavirus as “fear-mongering” in March, and said he was too macho for the virus to affect him.

Bolsonaro said: “In my particular case, with my history as an athlete, if I were infected with the virus, I would have no reason to worry, I would feel nothing, or it would be at most just a little flu.”

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro, along with his wife Michelle Bolsonaro
President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro, along with his wife Michelle Bolsonaro (Carlos Lebrato/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

In the speech he also attacked regions who had imposed lockdowns. He said: “We must return to normality. The few states and city halls should abandon their scorched-earth policies.”

Needless to say, Bolsonaro perpetuated multiple myths about the virus by comparing it to flu, and claiming that he – a 65-year-old who would be considered in the at-risk group – would not be adversely impacted.

Brazil has since become one of the countries most severely impacted by the virus as it surges through south America.

Leader has spent a long time cementing himself as one of the world’s most homophobic leaders.

The Brazilian president is reviled as one of the world’s most homophobic leaders.

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 his 2018 presidential 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”.

Bolsonaro has also claimed that gay people try to convert children “to satisfy their sexuality in the future”.

He has claimed: “I make a connection between homosexuality and paedophilia because many of the children who will be adopted by ‘gay’ couples will be abused by these homosexual couples.”

In April 2019, the president declared that Brazil must not become a “gay tourism paradise”.