Thousands of demonstrators gathered across Brazil, South America, and the world last month, protesting the recent election of Pastor Marco Feliciano as president of the Lower House’s Commission on Human Rights and Minorities.
Thousands of demonstrators
gathered across Brazil, South America, and the world last month, continuing the protests against the recent election of Pastor Marco Feliciano as president of the Lower House’s Commission on Human Rights and Minorities in Brazil. A controversial figure, Social Christian Party’s (PSC) Feliciano is an evangelical pastor known for making homophobic and racist statements as well as being currently under investigation for embezzlement charges.
Brazil’s House of Representatives
elected Feliciano as president of the Commission on Human Rights via a vote from 11 of the commission’s 18 members on March 7. The action immediately sparked a public outcry, with online petitions demanding Rep. Feliciano be forced to leave his post appearing only minutes after the election.
On March 16
in Salvador, Bahia, about 400 people attended the protest in the main square of Campo Grande district. Activists, artists, students, the Gay Group of Bahia, and Olodum were just some of the groups that expressed their outrage against the newly elected president of the Commission on Human Rights, who is also an Assembly of God pastor.
“Fora Feliciano” (“Out Feliciano”) as they marched the 2km circuit to Castro Alves Square in the Historical Centre, raising awareness about the controversial election. The group held up a large gay pride flag on their walk through the city, while many carried signs expressing their outrage. Some demonstrators painted their faces green and yellow, the main colours of the Brazilian flag.
Once the group
reached the square, they formed a circle and held hands around Castro Alves’ statue. This was the second protest about this controversial issue in Bahia’s capital, with the first in the Barra district just a few days earlier.
“homophobia – racism kills.” Many feel Feliciano is extremely homophobic, having referred to AIDS as "the gay cancer" in addition to tweeting, “The rot of homosexual feelings leads to hatred, crime, rejection.”
Feliciano also stirred up controversy
with another Twitter message that said, “On the African continent lies the curse of paganism, occultism, misery, diseases originating from there: Ebola, AIDS, hunger.” The pastor has also suggested that feminism would create a society “where there’ll be only homosexuals,” and tweeted “Africans are descendants of an ancestor cursed by Noah.”
“Feliciano does not represent the future.” Feliciano was elected two years ago as a parliamentary representative for the state of São Paulo. During his time in office, he has proposed bills to repeal same-sex marriage and to criminalize abortion, even in cases of extreme fetal abnormality.
The Commission on Human Rights and Minorities
started in 1995 to serve as a bridge between the government and social movements on reproductive rights, domestic violence, anti-racism, and anti-homophobia campaigns, as well as protections for indigenous peoples, women, and children. It is one of the key institutions to passing equality bills and anti-discrimination legislation.
Despite its small size
the Christian Social Party has two members on the Commission, whereas the far bigger Brazilian Democratic Movement Party and Brazilian Social Democracy Party are not represented. PSC is extremely right-wing, is a supporter of “gay cure” therapy, and disapproves of equality and anti-discrimination laws.
There have also been protests
in support of Feliciano in his role, and the pastor has made it clear that he is determined to stay, stating he has the affirmation of the Commission. However, even members of his own party have turned against him after he said the Commission was previously “ruled by Satan.”
More demonstrations have been planned around Brazil
but some are predicting a surge of support for the PSC at the next countrywide elections as protests, for and against, have provided Feliciano with much greater publicity than he would have otherwise had.