The Supreme Court in Brazil has acted swiftly to uphold LGBTQ rights and quash attempts at censorship.
On Thursday, the evangelical Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Marcelo Crivella, announced he wanted a Marvel comic book banned from sale at the Rio International Book Biennial.
The reason? The graphic novel, Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, features a same-sex kiss between two characters: Boyfriends Hulkling and Wiccan.
Crivella wanted the book, which he said was unsuitable for minors, wrapped in black plastic so no-one could flick through it without knowing about its content. On Friday, he sent in authorities to confiscate the book. However, by this time, the novel had already sold out.
The Mayor’s decision was initially supported by one of the country’s lower courts, prompting international headlines.
Local LGBTQ advocates and allies criticized the move. A YouTuber, Felipe Neto, even bought 14,000 copies of books with LGBTQ themes at the Rio fair, placed them in plain black wrappers, and distributed them at the event with a warning sticker saying (in Portuguese): “Book inappropriate for backward … and prejudiced people.”
Advocates of free speech also criticized the move. On Saturday, Brazil’s biggest newspaper, Folha de S.Paulo, ran a story about the ban on its front page. It included a large image of the two Marvel characters kissing that had so offended Crivella. This ensured it was seen widely across the country.
— Folha de S.Paulo (@folha) September 7, 2019
Yesterday, Brazil’s Supreme Court overruled the mayor’s decision, saying it was illegal because it targeted only LGBTQ books. The ruling ensures that the novel, and similar LGBTQ material, can continue to be sold.
Crivella says his motivation was not targeting LGBTQ people. He yesterday tweeted a video claiming that his attempt to ban the book was “not censorship or homophobia as many people think”. Instead, he reiterated he just wanted to protect minors and defend Brazilian families.
Não é censura nem homofobia como muitos pensam. A questão envolvendo os gibis na Bienal tem um objetivo bem claro: cumprir o que prevê o Estatuto da Criança e do Adolescente. Queremos, apenas, preservar nossas crianças, lutar em defesa das famílias brasileiras e cumprir a Lei. pic.twitter.com/CsWte3nsLG
— Marcelo Crivella (@MCrivella) September 8, 2019