Brazil’s LGBTQ+ politicians herald new age of hope as Bolsonaro consigned to ‘sewer of history’

Lula and Bolsonaro

After left-wing former president Lula toppled Jair Bolsonaro in the Brazilian election, campaigners are hopeful for the future of human rights.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, beat far-right current president Bolsonaro in Brazil’s presidential run-off election on Sunday (30 October).

At the time of writing, the official count stands at 50.83 per cent of votes for Lula against 49.17 per cent of votes for Bolsonaro with 98.86 per cent of the votes counted.

The election was divisive and bitterly fought. During his time in office, “proud homophobe” Bolsonaro has overseen a deadly rise in anti-LGBTQ+ violence, fuelled by his party’s vicious far-right rhetoric, has vocally opposed any kind of abortion rights, even for child rape victims, has allowed further deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, and has voiced his support for Brazil’s former military dictatorship.

LGBTQ+ activists, campaigners and politicians celebrated Lula’s win, and expressed their hope for the future of Brazil.

Trans congress member Duda Salabert tweeted: “For us, victory, hope; for Bolsonaro, defeat, the sewer of history!

“Congratulations Lula! Congratulations Brazil! We won!”

While Robeyoncé Lima, another trans member of congress, called on Lula to “end the misery of Brazil”, Linda Brasil, a trans rights activist and councillor for the state of Sergipe, tweeted: “Only those who are LGBTQIA+, women, Black, Indigenous and every person who has been a victim of the hate speech of this fascist loser knows what our cry represents when seeing the confirmation of Lula’s victory at the polls.

“Today is one of the most important days of our lives! We won!”

International human rights organisation Human Rights Watch called on the president-elect to reverse Bolsonaro’s “harmful policies”, and to take Brazil forwards on human rights, especially for those from marginalised communities.

Juanita Goebertus, Americas director at Human Rights Watch, said: “President Bolsonaro was a disaster for human rights, both at home and abroad.

“President-elect Lula should start working on a plan to reverse president Bolsonaro’s harmful policies in the areas of public security, the environment, and women’s, LGBT, and Indigenous rights, among others, and start carrying out that plan as soon as he takes office on 1 January 2023.”

Specifically, Human Rights Watch called on Lula to “dismantle barriers to access legal abortion erected by the Bolsonaro administration” and “develop a plan to curb police killings nationwide, in consultation with civil society and affected communities”.

“President-Elect Lula should place human rights at the center of his policies at home and abroad, and defend the rights of all, without discrimination,” added Goebertus. “That would be a sea change from the Bolsonaro administration.”

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.

After he emerged as the winner, he told journalists: “We are going to live new times of peace, love and hope.”