Gay Brazilian lawmaker resigns, leaves country following death threats

Gay Brazilian lawmaker resigns, leaves country following death threats
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An openly gay congressman in Brazil announced on Thursday that he is resigning and said he has left the country after receiving death threats.

Congressman Jean Wyllys said in an interview published with the Portuguese-language Folha de S. Paulo newspaper that he is currently outside of the country and will not be returning, according to the Associated Press.

Wyllys was the first openly gay member in the Brazilian National Congress and became a major target for conservative groups.

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He has been living under police protection since the assassination of Rio de Janeiro councillor Marielle Franco last March, the paper reported, according to Bloomberg.

Franco, a black bisexual politician, was a friend of Wyllys and a fellow member of the socialist party.

“Preserving a threatened life is also a strategy to fight for better days,” Wyllys wrote in a tweet, according to translations from AP and Bloomberg. “We did a lot for the common good. And we will do much more when the new time comes, it doesn’t matter if we do it by different means!”

Wyllys was set to begin his third congressional term in February but Brazil's increasingly polarized society has contributed to his decision to leave, Bloomberg reported. 

He told Folha de S. Paulo that he didn’t know how he would live for another four years in an armored car and with police protection, according to AP.

“How is it that I’m going to live four years of my life inside an armored car and with bodyguards?” he said. “Four years of my life not being able to go to the places I usually go to?”

Wyllys had clashed with current President Jair Bolsonaro in the past, even spitting on him during a clash in 2016 when Bolsonaro was a congressman. 

Bolsonaro, a former military officer and right-wing politician, made incendiary comments about race and sexual orientation during his campaign, including saying in 2011 he would be “incapable of loving a homosexual son.”

His administration removed concerns regarding the LGBT community from being considered by a new human rights ministry hours after his inauguration earlier this month. 

The president told Bloomberg that he has “nothing against the gays.”

“I have lots of gay friends,” Bolsonaro told Bloomberg from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.