Skip To Content
BuzzFeed News Home Reporting To You

Brazil's Anti-Gay President Canceled A Trip To New York Because Of Backlash

Jair Bolsonaro's visit to NYC was facing heated opposition from LGBT activists, environmentalists, and even the city's mayor.

Posted on May 4, 2019, at 2:25 p.m. ET

President Jair Bolsonaro
Mauro Pimentel / AFP / Getty Images

President Jair Bolsonaro

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has scrapped plans to attend a New York City gala in his honor later this month amid backlash from activists, politicians, and companies.

The far-right leader — known internationally for his anti-gay comments, history of misogyny, and opposition to environmental protections for the Amazon rainforest — was set to receive a Person of the Year Award from the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce on May 14.

"The choice of President Bolsonaro is a recognition of his strongly stated intention of fostering closer commercial and diplomatic ties between Brazil and the United States and his firm commitment to building a strong and durable partnership between the two nations," the group had said on its website.

But the chamber announced on that same site Friday that it had been informed Bolsonaro would no longer be attending the gala.

The president's spokesman, Gen. Otávio Rêgo Barros, told media the trip had been scrapped because of "the resistance and deliberate attacks by the mayor of New York and the pressure of interest groups" on event organizers.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio had called Bolsonaro "dangerous" and said his "overt racism, homophobia and destructive decisions will have a devastating impact on the future of our planet."

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
Drew Angerer / Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

The event was scheduled to be held at the American Museum of Natural History, but that facility pulled out when Bolsonaro was chosen as an honoree — a decision that drew praise from the mayor.

Several corporate sponsors also withdrew support for the event, including Delta Air Lines, the Financial Times newspaper, and Bain & Co. "Encouraging and celebrating diversity is a core Bain principle," a spokesperson for the consultancy company told media.

GLAAD, a prominent LGBT media-watchdog group, had been advocating against Bolsonaro's visit, and celebrated his decision to stay away.

"This successful campaign is an important reminder that in order to gain acceptance, LGBTQ people across the globe must continue to be visible, stand together, and do everything possible to protect the hard-fought progress we’ve earned," GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement.

Representatives for the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.

Celebrating Bolsonaro's decision to withdraw from the event, de Blasio tweeted Saturday that the president had "just learned the hard way that New Yorkers don’t turn a blind eye to oppression."

"We called his bigotry out. He ran away. Not surprised — bullies usually can’t take a punch," he wrote. "@jairbolsonaro Good riddance. Your hatred isn’t welcome here."

ADVERTISEMENT