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Brazil’s Only Gay Congressman Flees Country Fearing Violence

Jean Wyllys

Jean Wyllys says he will not fulfill his third term in office because of the rising violence in his home country.​

Brazil's only openly gay Congressman says he is leaving his post over the rising tide of violence and vitriol directed at LGBTQ+ Brazilians.

Jean Wyllys is currently traveling in Europe and told Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo that he had no plans to return for the third term he was elected to in October.

Wyllys is one of a few out lawmakers across Brazil, and has been in public office since serving in the Chamber of Deputies since 2011, according to BuzzFeed News. He said the reason he would not return was not necessarily the election of Brazil's new homophobic and transphobic president, Jair Bolsonaro, but because of the undercurrent of hatred for LGBTQ+ people by the emboldened electorate that gave power to the new president. A prime example of that violence is the fatal shooting of Marielle Franco, a black lesbian lawmaker, who was engaged to marry her partner Monica Benicio.

David Miranda, a member of the Rio de Janeiro City Council who is also gay, will assume Wyllys's seat for the Party for Socialism and Liberty (PSOL). Miranda is married to journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept. Both Miranda and Wyllys were friends with the slain Franco.

"I don't question at all that it was a political crime," Benicio told The Guardian at the time her fiance was killed. "She was our only black female councilor -- a black lesbian woman from the favelas occupying a position of power that's predominantly reserved for the white men who make up this 'Brazilian elite.'"

As Dawn Ennis previously reported for Out, Grupo Gay de Bahia, which tracks queer homicides in Brazil, says such violence is at an epidemic level: In 2017, a record 387 murders of people who identified as LGBTQ+ were recorded. There were 346 as of October 2018, with 167 trans people slain last year.

"Transgender people have always been the target of hatred in our country," Maite Schneider of Transempregos, an advocacy group for Brazil's statistically unsafe transgender population told Out earlier this month. Brazil has led the world in the number of murders of trans people for more than a decade. Trans people are "aberrations and sinners" to Brazil's fervent Christians, Schneider said, and that includes people like Damares Alves, Bolsonaro's new human rights minister.

Shortly after taking office, she said, "Girls will be princesses and boys will be princes. There will be no more ideological indoctrination of children and teenagers in Brazil," the Associated Press reports. She's also long declared that "the Brazilian family is being threatened" by diversity policies.

RELATED | Queer Brazilians Fear The Worst Under New President Jair Bolsonaro

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