Tsavkko Garcia, Raphael
Publication year: 2018

On Sept. 10, Brazilian right-wing organizations successfully censored an art exhibition called “Queermuseu – Cartografias da Diferença na Arte Brasileira” (Queer Museum – Cartographies of the Difference in Brazilian Art) at Santander Bank’s cultural centre in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The groups charged the exhibition with “promoting blasphemy, paedophilia and bestiality”.

Later that week, on September 13, evangelical fundamentalist pastor and federal deputy, Marco Feliciano, visited and publically criticized an exhibition in Brasilia named Não Matarás (Thou shalt not kill) of works critical of the Brazilian military dictatorship. Feliciano told the press that the paintings and sculptures in the exhibition resembled those of the censored Queermuseu. The next day, in the city of Campo Grande, MPs from the Legislative Assembly of Mato Grosso do Sul state went to the Precinct for the Protection of Children and Adolescents (Depca) and denounced another exhibition called Cadafalso (Scaffold) for “encouraging paedophilia”.

These three art shows weren’t the only ones targeted. Other art exhibitions and also theatre performances were censored or threatened over the following weeks. Different groups, mostly supported by evangelical fundamentalist organisations, claimed credit for the censorship movement. Among them one in particular stood out, the Movimento Brasil Livre (MBL – Free Brazil Movement).

The MBL is a pro-market liberal/libertarian pressure group formed in 2014. The group spearheaded the process that led to the impeachment of then-President Dilma Rousseff, the legitimacy of which continues to be debated in political and legal circles. Since then the MBL has assumed a role in Brazilian politics similar to the alt-right movement in the United States.

Many wonder why a group claiming to be libertarian is organizing campaigns to censor art. The group has allied itself with religious fundamentalist groups and individuals, such as former porn star Alexandre Frota. Frota and the MBL are leading a pseudo-moralistic crusade against what they call “gender ideology”, and against what they perceive as the imposition of a leftist agenda in society.

The accusation, directly aimed at rolling back feminist and women’s rights gains and mobilizing misogynistic sectors of society, promotes a clumsy moralism based on the “defence of the family”, and opposition to so-called “gender ideology”. In practice, the groups hide a well-organized political agenda to influence power.

Full article at Americas Program’s website. Date of publication: 09/01/2018

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