Brazilian first and only openly gay congressman has announced that he is leaving his job – and the country – after receiving death threats.
Jean Wyllys said he was currently outside of the country and had no plans to return after a growing number of threats in past year.
Wyllys, who had been re-elected in October, was very close to Marielle Franco, the gay municipal councilor of Rio, who was murdered in March with his driver.
It is probable that its departure increases fears among the Brazilian LGBT community, according to which homophobia is destined to rise further under the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, who has gained notoriety for his obvious homophobia. Bolsonaro did not make explicit comments on Wyllys’s announcement, but shortly thereafter he published a emoji with thumb up on his Twitter profile. The son of Bolsonaro, Carlos, city councilor of Rio, greeted the new with a tweet that said: “Go with God and be happy.”
Wyllys said that the former Uruguayan president Pepe Mújica had advised him to take death threats seriously. “He told me: ‘ Take care, friend. Martyrs are not heroes. “And he’s right: I don’t want to sacrifice myself,” Wyllys said.
Despite Brazil’s image as an inclusive nation that houses the world’s largest gay parade, homophobia is rampant and often violent. In 2017, at least 445 LGBT Brazilians died as victims of homophobia-an increase of 30% from 2016.
At the Congress, Wyllys was often disagreeing with Bolsonaro, a member of Congress for 28 years with a long history of homophobic, racist, and sexist comments.
In their most notorious public clash, Wyllys spit towards Bolsonaro on the floor of the lower House of Deputies after Bolsonaro dedicated his vote to impeach then-president Dilma Rousseff to a dictatorship-era torturer.
In a tweet on Thursday, Wyllys said: “Preserving a threatened life is also a strategy to fight for better days. We did a lot for the common good. And we will do much more when new times come.”

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)