By Chesney Hearst, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Thousands of demonstrators gathered in sixteen Brazilian cities on Saturday, March 9th, continuing the protests against the recent election of Marco Feliciano as President of the Human Rights Commission. A controversial figure, Rep. Feliciano (PSC-SP) is a evangelical pastor accused of making homophobic and racist statements as well as being currently under investigation for embezzlement charges.
Feliciano was elected as President of the Brazilian House of Representatives’ Human Rights Committee by a positive vote from eleven of the committee’s eighteen members during a session closed to the public held on Thursday, March 7th.
The action immediately sparked a public outcry with an online petition demanding his removal appeared only minutes after the election.
Earlier this year in January, Attorney General of the Republic, Roberto Gurgel, charged Feliciano with discrimination for a 2011 Twitter message which read in part, “The rot of homosexual feelings lead to hatred, crime, rejection.” The message, Grugel argued, “reveals the inducement to discrimination.”
Feliciano had also stirred up controversy with another Twitter message in 2011 that stated, “On the African continent lies the curse of paganism, occultism, misery, diseases originating from there: ebola, AIDS, hunger … Etc.”
“We organized the movement because of Feliciano’s statement that blacks and homosexuals are cursed,”Luiz Ricarte, São Paulo protest organizer and member of Movimento de Combate à Homofobia de Guarulhos told O Globo.
In São Paulo, between 650 and 800 protesters assembled partially blocking traffic near Avenida Paulista on Saturday afternoon while in Rio de Janeiro 300 to 400 people assembled in Centro in front of the City Council.
“I am a Christian and Feliciano does not represent many of the evangelicals,” said 21-year-old speaker and one of the organizers of the protest in Rio, Beatriz Pimentel Ferreira.
When questioned about the accusations of Feliciano being homophobic and racist, Pastor Everaldo Dias Pereira, chief executive of the PSC, told O Globo on earlier on Friday, “Our Christian principle is that marriage is between man and woman. We keep it. If one wants to be homosexual, that is her problem. It is free will. But respect what we think.”
Read more (in Portuguese).
* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.