right move

Brazilian presidential hopeful Eduardo Leite comes out as gay


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Eduardo Leite (@eduardoleite45)

A leading politician in Brazil, who is planning on challenging Jair Bolsonaro in Presidential elections next year, has come out as gay.

Eduardo Leite is the 36-year-old governor of the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. He is a member of the center-right Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB). He has been consistently critical of Bolsonaro’s handling of the Covid pandemic.

Leite made the revelation on Thursday night during an interview with broadcaster TV Globo.

“I have never spoken about a subject related to my private life,” Leite said. “But during this moment of low integrity in Brazil, I have nothing to hide. I’m gay – and I’m a governor who is gay rather than a gay governor.

“Just as Obama in the United States wasn’t a black president, but a president who was black. And I’m proud of this.”

His announcement was widely welcomed by LGBTQ advocates in the country and abroad. Leite later tweeted: “The countless messages of affection and support that I’m receiving leave me absolutely convinced: love will defeat hatred!”

However, some were quick to remind Leite that he had publicly supported Bolsonaro’s Presidential bid in 2018, even though Bolsonaro has a history as a homophobe.

Related: Bolsonaro says Brazil must stop being a country of “fags” in its response to COVID

Back in 2011, Bolsonaro 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.”

During his Presidency, Bolsonaro’s anti-LGBTQ attitudes have remained unchanged. In 2019, he spoke out about allowing Brazil to become a “gay tourism paradise.” He has faced consistent criticism for his handling of Covid in the country, and early on in the pandemic reportedly told staff that facemasks were for “sissies.”

On Friday, Bolsonaro reacted to Leite’s coming out, describing it as a “business card” for his campaign.

“I have nothing against his private life, but he cannot impose his lifestyle on others.”

Related: Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro slams nation’s gay tourism as affront to “families”

Jean Wyllys, the first openly gay member of Congress in Brazil, responded to Leite’s coming out by saying Leite had never retracted his support for Bolsonaro.

“This chap had many opportunities to defend the LGBT community and he didn’t. On the contrary … he was a Bolsonarista until yesterday – and he’s probably still one today, because at no point has he retracted his support for Bolsonaro.

“So I don’t celebrate this. I’m not part of this team of people who are commemorating this chap coming out of the closet as if it was some great accomplishment for Brazil’s LGBT community.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Eduardo Leite (@eduardoleite45)

The Brazil Presential elections take places in two stages if no candidate gains 50% of the vote in the first round. In 2018, the PSDB candidate did not get through to the run-off stage, hence Leite’s vote for Bolsonaro.

Appearing to go some way to addressing this previous support for the current president, Leite said yesterday on social media he gave his vote to Bolsonaro in 2018 but not his “support.”

“Today, it is obvious that Bolsonaro’s election was a mistake. We make mistakes to learn and learn not to make mistakes again.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Eduardo Leite (@eduardoleite45)