March 19, 2019 at 3:02 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Jair Bolsonaro visits White House, reiterates opposition to LGBTI rights
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro visited the White House on March 19, 2019. He reiterated his opposition to LGBTI rights during a press conference with President Trump. (Photo by Agência Brasil Fotografias; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday reiterated his opposition to LGBTI rights when he spoke alongside President Trump during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden.

Bolsonaro, speaking through a translator, stressed his government’s “respect of traditional family values” and opposition to “gender identity.” Bolsonaro in his remarks also praised Trump.

“I have always admired the United States of America,” said Bolsonaro. “This admiration has only increased since you took office.”

“Brazil does not have a president who is anti-American,” he added.

Trump said support of Venezuelan National Assembly President Juan Guaidó, who has declared himself the country’s interim president amid a worsening political and economic crisis, is among the issues that he and Bolsonaro discussed. A joint statement that the White House released does not say whether Trump and Bolsonaro discussed LGBTI issues and human rights.

“Today, President Donald J. Trump and President Jair Messias Bolsonaro of Brazil committed to building a new partnership between their two countries focused on increasing prosperity, enhancing security, and promoting democracy, freedom and national sovereignty,” reads the statement.

Bolsonaro on Tuesday also met with Pat Robertson and other evangelical Christians. The Christian Broadcasting Network, which Robertson founded, published a picture on its website that shows Bolsonaro praying with the group.

“I recognize the work evangelicals do in my country, which is no different to what they do around the world — sharing the Word of God and strengthening family values,” Bolsonaro told the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Bolsonaro, a former Brazilian Army captain who previously represented Rio de Janeiro in the country’s Congress, last October defeated former São Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s Workers’ Party in the second round of the country’s presidential election. Bolsonaro took office on Jan. 1.

Bolsonaro continues to face widespread criticism over his rhetoric against LGBTI Brazilians, women and other underrepresented groups.

Bolsonaro during his campaign said his government would defend the “true sense of marriage” between a man and a woman, even though same-sex couples have been able to marry across Brazil since 2013. Bolsonaro after taking office issued an executive order that directed Brazil’s human rights ministry not to consider LGBTI-specific issues.

Jean Wyllys, a member of the leftist Party for Socialism and Liberty who is the first openly gay man elected to the Brazilian congress, in January resigned and fled the country because of death threats that he received. Bolsonaro tweeted “great day” after Wyllys made his announcement.

Bolsonaro spoke at the White House a week after two former police officers were arrested in connection with the 2018 murder of bisexual Rio Councilwoman Marielle Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes.

Élcio Vieira de Queiroz, one of the former police officers who was arrested, lived in the same condominium complex in Rio’s exclusive Barra da Tijuca neighborhood in which Bolsonaro’s home is located. Brazilian media has published a picture taken last August that shows Bolsonaro with Queiroz.

Franco was a vocal critic of military militias that operate in Rio’s most dangerous neighborhoods. Bolsonaro on Monday during an interview with Fox News denied that he had any involvement in Franco’s murder.

Felipe Alface in São Paulo contributed to this article.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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