UPDATE (8/9/2019): The Supreme Court of Brazil has issued a strong rebuke to Rio de Janeiro Mayor Marcelo Crivella’s attempts to Avengers: The Children’s Crusade over a gay kiss.
Crivella had tried to force the Bienal do Livro, a popular local book fair, to withdraw the issue, which shows the gay superhero couple Wiccan and Hulkling embracing. But in a major ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that officials cannot target LGBTQ+ publications for censorship.
According to the court, Crivella’s actions violated the constitution’s guarantee of equal protection for all, and the court issued an injunction against attempts to confiscate the comic.
What’s more, the mayor’s attempt to ban The Children’s Crusade has backfired in every possible way. Increased interest in the volume led to all copies selling out before the event even began, while Brazilian YouTuber Felipe Neto paid for the distribution of 14,000 free books on LGBTQ+ themes at the book fair.
Brazil’s largest newspaper took a stand against anti-LGBTQ+ censorship by printing a photo of a banned gay kiss on the front page.
The Saturday edition of the São Paulo daily Folha de S.Paulo featured above the fold an image from the comic Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, which government leaders have sought to ban over accusations it will “spread homosexuality to children.” In the miniseries, Young Avengers Wiccan and Hulkling embrace, marking the first time Marvel allowed the gay superhero couple to kiss on the page.
Rodrigo Zeidan, a professor at NYU Shanghai, remarked on Twitter that it’s “not everyday that comics make the front page of the largest newspaper in Brazil.”
Although the series was originally printed from 2010 to 2012, government officials opposed the 264-page volume’s sale at the prestigious literary event Bienal do Livro in the city of Rio de Janeiro, where vendors were offering a 2016 luxury edition of The Children’s Crusade in printed in hardcover.
Alexandre Isquierdo, a councilman in Rio, referred to the comic as a “cowardly attempt to propagate homosexuality amongst our children.”
“Parents only realise the content later,” he said on Instagram. “An awful crime.”
After Isquierdo reportedly waved around a copy of The Children’s Crusade at a council meeting earlier this week, the city’s mayor got involved. Marcello Crivella claimed the comic was in violation of the Children and Teenagers Statute, which claims all content containing “pornographic images” should be marked as unsafe for youth.
The major subsequently ordered copies of the volume to be confiscated from every vendor at Bienal do Livro, claiming those who didn’t comply would face loss of licensure, and ordered municipal guards to remove them.
But when the guards arrived to carry out the sweep, volumes were already sold out. Eight of the nine vendors who carried The Children’s Crusade no longer had any copies left, citing increased interest in the comic following the mayor and city councilman’s anti-LGBTQ+ remarks.
The outcome is a rare victory for Brazilian anti-LGBTQ+ groups, who have faced increased oppression under the leadership of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro, who took office in January, has claimed over the years that he would rather have a dead son than a gay one and said he would physically attack a same-sex couple if he saw them kissing in the street.
Since taking office, the president has moved to defund films and television shows with LGBTQ+ themes.