Fearing for his life, Representative Jean Wyllys, a LGBTQ and Human Rights Defender, the first openly gay man elected to Congress in Brazil, gives up his third term and leaves Brazil

January 24, 2019

By Defend Democracy in Brazil Committee, New York

It is with deep concern that the Defend Democracy in Brazil Committee (DDB- NY)  in New York acknowledges Congressman Jean Wyllys’ decision of quitting his third Federal office mandate and leaving Brazil, due to lack of security.

The political situation in Brazil has worsened considerably since the questionable ousting of President Dilma Rousseff, and the later incarceration of former President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva. The first presidential election after what we believe was a Coup d’Etat, was dominated by hate speech and fake news. It culminated with the election of President Jair Bolsonaro, who has expressed total disregard for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, in alliance with Brazil’s military forces.

Rep. Jean Wyllys has been an exemplary Congressman, who bravely fought for the freedom and rights of LGBTQ populations, as well as human rights and social justice for all Brazilians.

DDB-NY expresses its solidarity with Representative Jean Wyllys, and calls on the international community to stand by Human Rights and the Rule of the Law in Brazil.

Below, you find the social media post in which Jean Wyllys discloses his decision, followed by an interview the Congressman gave to Folha de São Paulo Newspaper on his decision.

Representative Jean Wyllys (right) and Prof. James Green (Brown Univ., left) in an event organized by Defend Democracy in Brazil on 11/11/2016, at The Center in New York. Photo: Tania Cypriano for DDB-NY

Representative Jean Wyllys (right) and Prof. James Green (Brown Univ., left) in an event organized by Defend Democracy in Brazil on 11/11/2016, at The Center in New York. Photo: Tania Cypriano for DDB-NY

***   

On Twitter: “Preserving a threatened life is also a strategy of fighting for better days. We have done much for the common good. And we will do much more when the new time comes, no matter what we do by other means! Thank you to all of you with all my heart. Asé!”

Jean Wyllys

***

"Fearful of threats, Jean Wyllys, PSOL, gives up his term and leaves Brazil"

Published on 1/24/19 in Folha de São Paulo. Source of the full interview here (in Portuguese)

Elected for the third consecutive term as congressman representing the State of Rio de Janeiro, Rep. Jean Wyllys, from PSOL (Socialism and Freedom Party) is giving up his third term. In an exclusive interview with Folha, the Congressman - who is out of the country on vacation - has revealed that he does not intend to return to Brazil and that he will dedicate himself to his academic career.

Since the murder of Congresswoman Marielle Franco, also from PSOL in Rio de Janeiro, in March of last year, Wyllys lives under police escort. With the intensification of the death threats, common even before the execution of the city councilman, Wyllys made the decision to abandon public life.

"Pepe Mujica [the former president of Uruguay], when he learned that I received death threats, said to me, 'Boy, take care, martyrs are not heroes." And that's it: I do not want to sacrifice myself ".

According to Wyllys, in his resolution to leave the country, he also weighed in the recent news that relatives of a former military policeman suspected of heading the right wing paramilitary group investigated for Marielle's death, worked for Senator-elect Flávio Bolsonaro (also one of  the sons of President Bolsonaro), during his tenure as State Representative for Rio de Janeiro.

"I'm terrified that the President's son hired the hit man's wife and mother in his office," says Wyllys. "The President is someone who has always slandered me, who has always insulted me openly, who has always used homophobia against me. This environment is not safe for me," he added.

The first openly gay parliamentarian to put the LGBT agenda in the National Congress, Wyllys became one of the main targets of conservative groups, especially in social networks. He is also said to be "broken inside" because of fake news disseminated about him, even though he has won at least five cases for libel, slander and defamation.

"The penalty imposed, for example, on Alexandre Frota does not repair the damage he produced by attributing me a compliment to pedophilia. I saw my reputation destroyed by lies and felt powerless, unable to do anything. People have no idea what it is like to be the target", Wyllys said.

A Congressman elected by the PSL (same party as president Bolsonaro) of São Paulo, Frota was sentenced in the Federal Court in December last year to pay an indemnity of R $ 295,000 for posting a photo of Jean Wyllys accompanied by a false statement: "Pedophilia is a normal practice in several animal species, abnormal is the prejudice. "

Wyllys resents, above all, the lack of freedom in Brazil. "How will I live four years of my life in an armored car and under escort? Four years of my life, unable to attend the places I go to?" He asked.

He also warned that he is temporarily disconnecting from social networks and that he does not want to track the impact of his announcement.

"This was not an easy decision and it involved a lot of pain, because I am also giving up the proximity to my family, my dear friends and the people who like me and wanted me around," he explained.

Regarding the future, he still has no definite plans. "I think I'll even say that I'm going to Cuba," he says ironically (the right wing conservative groups often say lefties should “go to Cuba”).

When did you decide to give up the mandate?

JW: I had been thinking of giving up public life ever since I was living under escort, from when Marielle's execution took place. Before that, there were death threats against me and, curiously, there were none against her. I never thought that the death threats against me could actually happen. So I never asked for police escorts.

But when Marielle's execution happened, I was aware of their seriousness. In addition to these death threats coming from these groups of assassins, from rent killers linked to paramilitary groups, there was another possibility: the attack by religious fanatics who believed in the systematic defamation made  against me.

Did you get beaten up?

JW: Besides the name-calling, there were people pushing me, even with the security guards at my side. And the thing was getting worse because of the fake news-based campaign. I was not a candidate for President, but the main fake news involved me - the “gay kit”. It was fake news produced in 2011 and ever since attributed to me.

On the day of the lunar eclipse [07/27], when the moon turned red, I could not leave the house because I was threatened. I could only go out with the police escort and they were not there. A simple thing, a phenomenon in the sky that I could not get out and see.

That day, I had a crying crisis and I said, "I'm going to drop everything". I cannot be in my own country and not be able to go see a lunar eclipse without being insulted by people who think I'm a pedophile.”

Natalia Campos