It is common knowledge that every year on January 26--the occasion of India's Republic Day, a foreign leader is invited as the chief guest in an effort to boost bilateral ties between two countries. In the past, several inspiring leaders like Barack Obama and François Hollande have attended the annual parade. This year, we're not sure we can use the word 'inspiring' for our chief guest.
In case you missed it, Brazillian President Jair Bolsonaro is all set to attend our country's celebration of unity and diversity. Wondering why we're less than enthusiastic about him? It's because he's a controversial leader not only for his extreme right-wing policies but also for making offensive remarks against women, immigrants, black people, and the LGBTQIA+ community.
Bolsonaro came to power with a 46% vote, and his supporters believe that he will rescue Brazil's dwindling economy from its worst-ever recession and unemployment crisis in a century. Sound familiar?
Can't believe that a global leader can make statements that are sexist, homophobic and racist? Well, read on to find out for yourself:
1. In 2014 when he was a Congressman, Bolsonaro had told opposition's Maria do Rosario, "I wouldn't rape you because you're not worthy of it. Stay here and listen." He later repeated the comments to a newspaper, adding that he would not rape Rosario because she was "ugly".
2. During a speech in 2017, he said, "I have five children. Four are men, and then in a moment of weakness the fifth came out a girl."
3. During an interview in January 2018, Bolsonaro explained how he had previously spent the housing allowance he received as a congressman. “Since I was a bachelor at the time, I used the money to have sex with people,” he said.
4. In 2011, Bolsonaro had said he would be "incapable of loving a homosexual son". “I’d rather have my son die in a car accident than have him show up dating some guy,” he said.
5. In 2002, Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso came out in support of gay rights and marriage. In return, Bolsonaro said, "I won’t fight against it nor discriminate, but if I see two men kissing each other on the street, I’ll beat them up."
6. In April last year, Bolsonaro was quoted in a magazine, "Brazil can't be a country of the gay world, of gay tourism. We have families."
7. In a 2017 interview, Bolsonaro said, "I visited a quilombo and the least heavy afro-descendant weighed seven arrobas (approximately 104 kg). They do nothing! They are not even good for procreation." Quilombos are native Brazilian settlements run by quilombolas, who are descendants of rebel slaves from colonial Brazil.
8. Bolsonaro has also reportedly referred to black activists as “animals” who should “go back to the zoo”.
9. In 2015, he was quoted calling refugees the "scum of the earth".
10. He has always been very vocal about his support for the former military dictatorship that ruled the country between 1964 and 1985. He said, "The dictatorship’s mistake was to torture but not kill. I’m pro-torture, and the people are too.”
If you're surprised why the invitation was extended to a controversial leader like Bolsonaro, don't be. Owing to the shared colonial history of the two countries, India has always maintained good bilateral relations with the South American nation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended an invitation to the Brazillian President during an informal meeting between the two leaders at the BRICS summit.
Well, we hope that the committee extending such invitations will be more considerate about who they're inviting as the chief guest for such a prestigious event in the future.
Featured Image: Instagram
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