After the evangelical mayor of Rio de Janeiro ordered the banning of a comic book because it depicted a same-sex kiss, the country’s largest newspaper printed the couple’s lip lock on its front page.
Last week, mayor Marcelo Crivela demanded that organizers of the Bienial Do Livro book fair wrap all copies of the 2012 trade paperback version of Avengers: The Children’s Crusade in opaque black plastic. He then went a step further, ordering the graphic novel be removed from the event altogether.
According to O Globo, fair organizers refused to comply with the request and, on Thursday, Crivela ordered a raid on the fair—directing agents to seize all copies of the comic because it had “sexual content for minors.”
By then, though, the book had sold out.
Organizers say the festival “gives a voice to all audiences, without distinction, as a democracy should be,” according to a statement translated in Newsarama, adding that this week the Bienial Do Livro will offer three panels spotlighting trans and LGBTQA + literature.
On Friday, Crivella, who once claimed homosexuality was caused by botched abortions, posted a video explaining his decision to censor the book, which he said was intended to “defend the family.”
Reporting on the raid, Folha de S.Pauloprinted the kiss from The Children’s Crusade on the cover of its September 7 edition. Editor Sérgio Dávila toldThe Guardian he printed the image to “throw light on censorship threats.” In 2019, Folha de S.Paulo had an estimated circulation of 332,415.
Brazilian YouTube celebrity Felipe Neto protested Crivela’s censorship by purchasing 14,000 books featuring LGBT content, wrapping them in black plastic and distributing them for free at the event.
“Although we [are] going through the most frightening government in terms of repression since the dictatorship, this time we have a united and engaged people who will not permit that censorship, the imposition of others’ moral values,” he told The Guardian.
Brazil’s Supreme Court overturned the mayor’s decision to censor the book on Sunday, according to El Globo.
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade follows twin superheroes Billy Kaplan and Tommy Shepherd as they try to locate their mother, the Scarlet Witch. Kaplan, who goes by the code name Wiccan, is dating Teddy Altman, who goes by Hulkling.
The pair’s kiss comes at the end of the storyline after the Young Avengers decide to disband.
While Brazil supports marriage equality, offers legal recognition for trans people, and hosts the massive Sao Paulo Pride celebration, it’s also home to gruesome anti-LGBT violence, including decapitations and strangulations. According to Grupo Gay de Bahia, more than 40 percent of all anti-LGBT violence take place in Brazil. In February 2017, a transgender woman was stoned to death in São Paulo. A year later, police discovered the charred remains of a gay homeless man in an empty parking lot.
In a 2011 interview, current Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro said he would be “incapable” of loving a gay sone. “I prefer that he die in an accident than show up with some guy with a mustache.”
*story by NewsWeek