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Brazilian presidential hopeful Eduardo Leite comes out as gay: 'I have nothing to hide'

The Brazilian governor previously backed the country's far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro.

2021-07-05

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Wiki

Brazilian governor and potential presidential candidate Eduardo Leite has come out publicly as gay in a TV interview.

The politician, 36 - who expressed support for the country’s current far-right leader, Jair Bolsonaro, as recently as 2018 - said he had "nothing to hide” in the interview last Thursday (1 July).

“I am a governor who is gay, not a gay governor”

Eduardo Leite (Photo: Wiki)

Speaking to the Brazilian broadcaster TV Globo, Leite said (as per Reuters): “During this moment of low integrity in Brazil, I have nothing to hide, I am gay. I am a governor who is gay, not a gay governor, as former President Obama in the U.S. was a president who was Black, not a Black president. And I am proud of that."

Leite, who’s the governor of the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul and a member of social democratic party PSDB, would be the first openly gay presidential candidate in Brazil.

While Leite's coming out makes him the first out gay governor in Brazilian history, the announcement has been met with a mixed response given his past support for a president whose political career has been marked by vicious anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.

In 2018, Leite supported Bolsonaro in the second round of the presidential election. Bolsonaro has consistently attacked LGBTQ equality and gone as far as saying he’d rather his son died than be gay.

Jair Bolsonaro (Photo: Wiki)

Explaining his support for Bolsonaro in 2018, Leite, who’s with the centre-right Brazilian Social Democratic party (PSDB), said he was doing so to keep the left-wing social democratic party, the Workers’ Party (PT), out of power, adding it was a “democratic gesture”.

The decision was reportedly made in coalition with other parties, to whom Leite said he did not agree with Bolsonaro on several issues. Leite also said at the time he was committed to, “a policy made with love, not hate”.

“You’ve made history”

The announcement received a mixed response. The veteran LGBT campaigner Toni Reis wrote on Facebook: “You’ve made history”.

But Brazil’s first openly gay member of congress, Jean Wyllys, was more sceptical. He’s quoted by The Guardian as saying “this chap had many opportunities to defend the LGBT community and he didn’t”, before stating his belief that the move was strategic to boost Leite’s presidential hopes.

Leite has tweeted to say thank you for those who have supported him, saying: “The countless messages of affection and support that I’m receiving leave me absolutely convinced: love will defeat hatred!”

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