BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — The newly elected head of Brazil's House of Representatives Committee on Human Rights and Minorities is facing widespread opposition to his election because of his anti-gay and racist positions, Gay Star News (GSN) reports.
Consecutive weekend protests, staged in several Brazilian cities, have called for Marco Feliciano's removal as committee chair. According to the site Global Voices, Feliciano is the head of the Assembléia de Deus church and an "outspoken opponent of gay marriage and abortion." The site also notes that Feliciano is under two Supreme Federal Court investigations – "one for embezzlement and the other for homophobic behaviour."
Feliciano reportedly tweeted that "the putridity of the homosexual feelings leads to hate, crime, rejection” in response to the investigation. He has denied he is homophobic or racist, but a number of media reports indicate he has a record of remarks attacking the gay community and demonizing African people.
In 2011, Feliciano, who is a member of the Christian Social Party, reportedly tweeted that being gay is "hateful," "sick" and against the rule of God, but gay people could achieve salvation through a cure, GSN reports. Last year, Feliciano called AIDS the "gay cancer" during an evangelical conference, Global Voices says. He also reportedly suggested that "Africans are descendants of an ancestor cursed by Noah" and that the curse "spilled over the African continent, thus the hunger, the plagues, the diseases, the ethnic wars."
Queer rights and anti-racism advocates took to the streets of major Brazilian cities to express their opposition to Feliciano's election as chair of the legislature's human rights committee.
In São Paulo, more than 500 people marched, shouting for Feliciano to be ousted from the position. Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia (Brazil’s capital), Florianópolis, Porto Alegre, Maceió, Vitória, Fortaleza and Salvador also saw protesters take to the streets.
Feliciano has thousands of supporters on both Twitter and Facebook. One sympathizer on Twitter wrote that the congressman is "making a difference" and that "God's people" stand by him.
Not all of the evangelical community supports him. According to Global Voices, Rede Fale, a network representing 39 religious groups, has objected to his election and is spearheading a petition to have him removed from office.
An Avaaz petition also calls for Feliciano's removal and has so far gathered nearly 450,000 signatures.
Feliciano is defiant and says he'll remain committee chair.