Sexuality Policy Watch

Brazil as a hub of anti-gender transnational politics (August – October 2021)

By Sonia Corrêa

In September, Pope Francis visited Hungary and Slovakia, and in the latter country, in a conversation with a group of Jesuits, he repeated recommendations on the pastoral welcome of homosexuals while, at the same reiterating his criticism of “gender,” which, he said, is an abstract concept that “exerts a diabolical fascination because it is not incarnate.” His speech had a destiny: the ongoing parliamentary debate in Italy on the Zan hate crimes and anti-discrimination law. As Massimo Prearo notes in an exclusive interview, the law would be halted a month later, amongst other factors, as a result of a legal argument presented by the Vatican. Following the Pope’s visit, the IV Demographic Summit, promoted by the Hungarian government since 2018 to discuss Europe’s fertility decline and the “migration problem,” was held in Budapest.

In October, Marine Le Pen was also in Budapest to discuss with Prime Minister Orbán the “impositions” of the European Union that, according to both, infringe on the “constitutional identity of their countries” and, quite possibly, the Istanbul Convention against Gender Based Violence was on the agenda. Another important connection between the two countries is the collaboration agreement signed by the Collegium Intermarium – a university created by the Polish ultra-Catholic organization Ordo Iuris – with the Institut de Sciences Sociales, Économiques et Politiques (ISSEP), founded by Marion Marechal, Le Pen’s niece. In Poland, the Collegium celebrated its first anniversary with a conference on the theme of “cancellation.” Last but not least, just before the G-20 Summit, Vladimir Putin gave a long speech on geopolitical conditions and the global economy at the Valdai Club Discussion in which several paragraphs were devoted to the “gender problem,” especially against gender in education and gender identity in childhood, stating that “gender ideology is a crime against humanity.”

Activity was also intense in Latin America. Since the beginning of 2021, representatives of VOX, the Spanish party, have been visiting the region to gain support for the Madrid Charter. In August, its leader, Santiago Abascal, met with members of the PAN and the PRI in Mexico and the events provoked strong reactions and polemics. This high-profile episode stimulated the press to map more precisely the contours of the Ibero-American extreme right-wing platform that is materializing in the region.

Within these intense trends, Brazil, in particular, was the main site of hyperactivity. In late September, Bolsonaro, who had received an AfD leader in July, talked (outside the official agenda) with two German anti-vaccine activists. According to DW, the pair, who had also been with Minister Damares Alves, is under surveillance by the German state for propagating conspiracy theories. Before that, in preparation for the September 7 marches, the ultraconservative American club CPAC met again in the country with the participation of dozens of government officials, Brazilian activists, and actors and actresses from outside the country (learn more here). In the event, which had freedom as its motto, feminism, abortion, and gender identity in childhood were the targets of virulent attacks.

In October, the Financial Times reported that Digital Acquisition Corporation, a company owned by Congressman Luis Felipe de Orleans e Bragança, is raising funds for the digital platform being created by Donald Trump. Soon after, during the G-20 – when Bolsonaro was isolated from his peers, committed gaffes, and was complicit in aggression against journalists – the Minister of Foreign Affairs announced that he would make an official visit to Russia in November 2021.

In this same period, much has happened in the realm of the parallel diplomacy that unfolded since the beginning of 2021 when the Bolsonaro government became the new leader of the conservative agendas launched by the Trump administration, in particular, the so-called Geneva Consensus. Just like in Hungary, where this line of foreign policy is led by Katlin Novak (Minister of Family), in Brazil, Angela Gandra, National Secretary of Family, is in charge of the transnational agenda.

At the beginning of September, although she was on vacation, Gandra went to Portugal and then, in Spain, where she participated in a meeting of Catholic political leaders and met with a conservative judge of the Constitutional Court. Then, in Ukraine, she attended the famous Prayer’s Breakfast which brought together a wide range of right-wing and anti-LGBTTIA+ rights activists (read Jamil Chade’s article covering this entire tour). Also in September, Gandra participated virtually in the Political Network of Values (PNV) webinar to evaluate a decade of family politics in Hungary. It is also worth noting that, since 2019, Gandra has been in constant communication with Ordo Iuris in Poland and is now a faculty member of the Collegium Intermarium.

In October, Gandra and Damares, as leaders of the so-called Geneva Consensus, attended a ceremony organized by the government of Guatemala to mark the country’s adherence to the document. They were also in Geneva for a series of diplomatic activities: meeting with countries of the Portuguese Language Community, an audience with the director of the WHO, a visit to the UNHCR, a meeting with the Hungarian chancellor, and a panel coordinated by the ILO with the participation of the governments of Hungary and Poland to discuss the balancing between work and family. And, in a meeting held at the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the UN to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the launching of the Consensus, the addition of the Russian Federation to the group was publicly announced.

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