Henrique Pires, Brazil’s secretary of culture, is stepping down from his position in opposition to what he says is government censorship. Pires accused conservative leaders of deliberately trying to suppress LGBT art.
The former secretary of culture recently found himself at odds with Osmar Terra, who was appointed as minister of citizenship in January by the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro despite his lack of qualifications. Pires was quoted as saying that Terra is “no longer a democratic man and is now aligned with censorship.”
On Monday, Aug. 21, the government suspended a competition launched by the Audiovisual Sector Fund (FSA), a federal initiative that was supposed to disperse 400,000 to 800,000 reais (approximately $98,000 to $195,000) to five public television programs across 12 topics including gender, the environment, and professional life. On Aug. 15, Bolsonaro called for the cancellation of the competition, specifically those television programs that revolved around gender diversity and LGBT art.
The competition has been postponed for six months, though Terra denies that the suspension is in any way related to censorship. Terra insists that it was delayed due to a need to recompose the reviewing committee.
“It is very clear that I am out of tune with Terra and the president on freedom of expression,” Pires stated. “I don’t agree that culture can have filters, so I’m leaving.”
Pires stipulated that his resignation is “not going against anyone, but standing up for free speech.” He added, “Either I speak up and get out, or I’ll be conniving.”
“We need to pacify Brazil to work, not keep looking through a magnifying glass to see if there is a naked man kissing another man,” Pires told Folha de São Paulo. “It’s not as if Brazil doesn’t have more than 13 million unemployed.”