Xtra Weekly
3 min

Xtra Weekly: Apparently there are no gay people in Malaysia

Terror attack in New Zealand, Brazil and Beyoncé. Here’s your Xtra Weekly, March 15.

Jair Bolsonaro participates in the 221 years commemoration ceremony of the Naval Fusiliers Corps of the Navy of Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro on March 7, 2019. Credit: Antonio Lacerda/STREPA

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LGBTQ2 people continue to fight back against a conservative wave in Brazil.

Here’s the background 👉In October 2018, Brazil elected far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro won with 55 percent of the vote, and the new president has taken troubling stances on issues involving women and LGBTQ2 communities.

His supporters say his no-nonsense approach will address corruption, while his opponents argue he’s a far-right homophobe and misogynist.

Why this matters 👉Bolsonaro’s government has threatened LGBTQ2 rights in the country. In fact, he used anti-LGBTQ2 sentiments as a foundation for his presidency and proclaimed that he’s a proud homophobe, even saying he would be incapable of loving a gay son. He also prevented Brazil’s human rights ministry from addressing LGBTQ2 concerns.

Bolsonaro also fired the country’s top HIV prevention task force official for allegedly authorizing a campaign aimed to support the country’s transgender community.

Here’s a silver lining 👉When Bolsonaro was leading in the polls last year, a record-breaking number of trans people ran for office in the hopes of holding positions in the new government. This movement resulted in the country electing an Indigenous woman and a trans woman to office for the first time.

The latest 👉The growing visibility and activism of marginalized groups, including Indigenous and LGBTQ2 people, has, in part, contributed to a populist backlash, evidenced by the election of figures like Bolsonaro and US President Donald Trump.

In an interview with Xtra, Márcia Rocha, advocate and coordinator of Transpempregos, an organization in Brazil that matches trans job seekers to employers, says society’s view of trans people and trans experience is evolving and conservatives are afraid because they’re seeing a lot of changes.

“They are concerned about [the changes] because they cannot see a different world where they are the alpha male with all the power,” Rocha says.

Brazilian trans artist Aretha Sadick says that before the conservative wave, people might have hesitated to call out racist, homophobic and transphobic acts.

”Now, we are giving names to these things,” she says.

Sadick says she and her friends feel like it’s important to go out and be visible. However, with the country’s current political climate, they try to be more cautious and prioritize their safety.

— with files from Riley Sparks


🌎 In March 2018, queer Brazilian politician Marielle Franco and her entourage were ambushed in Rio de Janeiro. This week, two former police officers were arrested nearly a year after the assassination of Franco and her driver.

🌎 A new survey suggests that the majority of religious groups (yes, even white evangelicals 👀) show support for policies that protect LGBTQ2 communities. Colour me shook, tbh.

🌎 LGBTQ2 seniors marched on Washington to protest Trump’s tax cut. They say the cuts may negatively affect programs catered specifically for their needs. ✊✊✊

🌎 In Japan, more than 40 percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual students — and more than 80 percent of trans students —  report having uncomfortable experiences in job interview partly because most of the questions are geared towards straight people. Yikes.

🌎 Malaysia’s tourism minister reportedly said there are no gay people in the country. And yes, we’re confused too.



Yesterday, we heard of the hate-filled terror attack targeting two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, where at least 49 people were killed and 20 seriously injured.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it as an “unprecedented act of violence” and “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”

I’d like to say that hate has no room in our society, but that is futile given what just happened in Christchurch. We have a long way to go.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.

Today and every day, take time to practice acceptance and compassion.

Most importantly, love. Make room for love.