Brazil’s anti-LGBTQ+ president Bolsonaro loses first round of election as left-wing rival inches ahead

Jair Bolsonaro and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who will face off in a Brazil run off election

Brazil will vote in a run-off between far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who fell just short of claiming an election victory.

Brazilians cast their votes on Sunday (2 October) for the country’s next leader, and while the country’s former leader commonly known as Lula beat the far-right Bolsonaro in the popular vote, he failed to secure the 50 per cent of votes needed to be elected.

Lula received 48 per cent of the vote, while Bolsonaro received 43 per cent.

The pair will now face each other in a run-off election in four weeks time.

The left-wing Lula served as president of Brazil from 2003 until 2010, but was unable to run in the 2018 election as he was in prison on corruption charges which were later annulled.

Speaking to press after the results became clear on Sunday, Lula said: “The struggle continues until our final victory. We are going to win these elections – this for us is simply extra time.”

Bolsonaro, however, has said that “only God” can remove him from office, sparking fears that like Donald Trump, he may refuse to accept defeat. According to The Guardian, he has also pushed unfounded rumours of possible election fraud.

Although Lula has not been outspoken about LGBTQ+ issues, he has previously attended queer events and spoken in support of LGBTQ+ rights. 

But for Brazil’s LGBTQ+ community, anyone would be better than Bolsonaro.

The viciously homophobic and transphobic president, who once said he’d rather have a dead son than a gay one, has used his presidency to attack the LGBTQ+ community time and time again.

He previously claimed “homosexual fundamentalists” were brainwashing children to “become gays and lesbians to satisfy them sexually in the future”, and even used a speech ahead of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral to attack trans rights, which he called “gender ideology”. His relentless far-right, religious rhetoric has seen a deadly rise in anti-LGBTQ+ violence.

Bolsonaro has described himself “proud homophobe”, and during the coronavirus pandemic told Brazil stop fearing COVID-19 – which he said is just a “little flu” – like a “country of f*gs“.

Brazil will vote again in the country’s run-off election on 30 October.