Brazil’s far-right President, Jair Bolsonaro, has again whipped up homophobic sentiment with his most recent comments on COVID-19.
At a press conference on Tuesday at the Presidential Palace in Brasilia, Bolsonaro suggested Brazil couldn’t grind to a halt in its efforts to slow transmission of the coronavirus.
“I regret the deaths. I really do. But all of us are going to die one day,” he told journalists, according to AFP. “There is no point in escaping from that, in escaping from reality. We have to stop being a country of fags (maricas). We have to face up to it and fight. I hate this f****t stuff”
“Maricas” is a slang Portuguese term for gay men, which is best translated as “sissies” or “fags.” Some media outlets have translated it as “sissies” but others have gone with “fags.”
Bolsonaro’s comments come despite Brazil having the second-highest COVID death rate in the world. With over 162,000 deaths, it is second only to the U.S. It has had over 5.7million reported cases, and health experts believe that could be a serious undercount of the true number. Bolsonaro was diagnosed with the virus in July.
Prior to his own diagnosis, he had reportedly mocked staff who wore facemasks, saying they were, “coisa de viado”. Another homophobic slur, this roughly translates as “for fairies”.
Related: Brazil’s Bolsonaro said masks were “for fairies” – before he got COVID-19
Bolsonaro has a history of homophobia. Back in 2011, he said in an interview with Playboy, “I would be incapable of loving a gay son”, suggesting it would be better for such a son to die in a car accident.
In 2018, during a filmed interview, Bolsonaro said, “Yes, I’m homophobic – and very proud of it.”
Last year, Bolsonaro spoke out about allowing Brazil to become a “gay tourism paradise.”
Bolsonaro is a major ally of President Donald Trump. He remains one of the few, major world leaders to not yet offer congratulations to Joe Biden on becoming President-Elect.
Related: Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro slams nation’s gay tourism as affront to “families”