BBC slammed over tweet asking whether Brazil's President-elect is 'homophobic' or a 'refreshing break' from PC culture

Jair Bolsonaro once said he'd "beat up" gay people if he saw them kissing in the street.


Words: Will Stroude

The BBC has been slammed over a tweet which questioned whether Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro is "racist, sexist and homophobic" or simply a "refreshing break from political correctness".

Bolsonaro, a far-right Congressman who once said he'd "incapable of loving a homosexual child", won the Brazilian presidential election over the weekend, beating Workers Party candidate Fernando Haddad by 55% of the vote to 45%.

Retired military officer Bolsonaro, who has respresented the star of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil's Chamber of Deputies since 1991 and been described as Brazil's answer to Donald Trump, has been a vocal opponoent of LGBT rights in Brazil for decades.

The 63-year-old once said he would "beat up" a gay couple if he saw them kissing in the street, and previously declared: "Yes, I’m homophobic – and very proud of it."

Bolsonaro is also renowned for making racist and misogynisitic statements, once telling a female polititican that she was too unattractive for him to rape, and that he didn't "run [the] risk" of his sons marrying black women because his offspring were "very well educated".

As the world reacted to Bolsonaro's election victory on Monday (30 October), the BBC Monitoring service tweeted a link to an article rounding up some of Bolsonaro's most controversial statements - including his comment that he'd rather his son "died in an anccident" than be gay - before asking whether the politician offered a "refreshing break from political correctness".

The accompanying tweet read: "Racist, sexist, homophobic or a refreshing break from political correctness? Jair Bolsonaro's history of controversial statements #BrazilElection".

The tweet was quickly slammed by social media users, who accused BBC Monitoring of putting racist, homophobic and misogynist statements up for debate instead of challenging them directly.

"So nice for women, LGBT people and minorities to know that the BBC thinks it's a toss-up whether persecuting them is bad or 'refreshing'," wrote one user.

They added: "Should we get to live our lives? Or would it be refreshing if we were all exterminated? Just two completely equivalent sides of the rich spectrum of opinion!"

Another added: "Maybe editorialise rather than reflect? Spectrums of opinion are everywhere, we need the BBC to take decisions on which are worth hearing."

Others hit back with memes mocking the apparent equal platform given to clearly hateful statements.

BBC Monitoring deleted the tweet in question, but stopped short of issuing an apology, tweeting later: "We have removed an earlier tweet about statements made by Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro.

"The intention was to reflect the spectrum of opinion on such statements but the language of the post may not have reflected this accurately."

A link to a separate story on Jair Bolsonaro's policies and statements was later posted on Twitter with the caption: "Brazil's new president-elect is known for his incendiary statements, but what does he actually stand for?"