Despite intense protests, Brazil’s House of Representatives elected the Federal Deputy and Christian Minister, Marcos Feliciano (PSC – Social Christian Party) on March 8 as the new chair of its Commission for Human Rights and Minorities. The vote was held a day late, behind closed doors, due to the presence of large numbers of campaigners urging committee members not to vote for the Christian Minister.
Marcos Feliciano is known for his homophobic and racist declarations: “Africans descend from an ancestor cursed by Noah. This is a fact,” he wrote. “Noah’s curse on his grandson, Canaan, lingers in Africa, therefore leading to all the hunger, diseases, ethnic wars.”
The PT (Worker’s Party) deputy Erika Kokay questioned whether Feliciano could be regarded as an eligible candidate under the Chamber’s own rules. “The Christian Minister’s positions are not unknown. He has affirmed that AIDS is a gay cancer, that Africans have been cursed. Put forward as a candidate by PSC, his candidacy is an attack on the Commission’s raison d’être”, declared Kokay.
André Moura, leader of the Social Christian Party, defended Feliciano maintaining his appointment to be a committee decision and declaring that his past comments shouldn’t affect his new role. “These opinions do not mean he will be biased while leading the commission,” he said.
Before the election was held, the Commission’s president, Domingos Dutra (PT – Workers’ Party), made a compelling speech of resignation (Watch here) in protest at Marcos Feliciano’s nomination to the presidency. Dutra and many other deputies, including openly gay deputy Jean Wyllys, walked out of the meeting before the election was held.
In addition to his racist and homophobic declarations, Marcos Feliciano’s image has been further tarnished by the exposure of his behaviour during his fund-raising sermons at the ‘Resurrection Cathedral’ (Catedral do Avivamento) for his church ‘The Assembly of God’ in Riberão Preto, in São Paulo state. Feliciano accepts donations in cash, cheque, credit cards. Even motorbikes can be used to pay for ‘divine rewards’, he announces.
In this video (not subtitled), Feliciano says: “This is the last time I’ll say it. Samuel de Sousa has donated using his credit card, but hasn’t provided the password. This is not fair. Then he is going to ask God for a miracle, and if God doesn’t reply he’s going to say God is evil.”
A day after the election protesters, organised online across more than 16 Brazilian cities, took to the streets to campaign against the decision. São Paulo city seems to have held the largest demonstration, despite the much smaller numbers claimed by the police and mainstream media.
The appointment of Marcos Feliciano came shortly after one of the world’s largest soya farmers, Blairo Maggi, who in the past has been responsible for clearing hundreds of acres of tropical forest, was appointed head of the Commission for the Environment, provoking fierce criticisms from environmentalists.
These absurd appointments are the result of Brazil’s complicated political system with its large number of political parties. The government is constantly being forced to hand over key appointments to minority parties in order to stitch up support for its legislative programme.