Congressman Jair Bolsonaro has never been afraid to speak his mind. He says what he wants to, regardless of how racist, homophobic, or misogynistic his comment might be. Now, Bolsonaro will be prosecuted by the Supreme Court for one of his rants. In December 2014, Bolsonaro said about a congresswoman: “She doesn’t deserve [to be raped by me], because she’s too ugly, not my type. I would never rape her. I’m not a rapist, but if I were, I wouldn’t rape her – she doesn’t deserve it.”
This is a landmark decision. For decades, Bolsonaro has shielded himself with the immunity enjoyed by members of the Parliament regarding freedom of speech. According to the law, Brazilian elected officials cannot be prosecuted for what they say or write; in the aftermath of the dictatorship, it was a way to break with years of censorship. But this also became a form of protection for men like Bolsonaro, who incite hate towards specific populations – often minorities. Now, we know that politicians won’t be able to say whatever absurdity comes to mind.
During his vote, Justice Luís Roberto Barroso said: “Nobody can shield himself with this immunity to call someone a ‘dirty negro,’ or a ‘depraved gay,’ or say that he wouldn’t rape a woman because ‘she doesn’t deserve it.’ It is an offense to women in general.”
According to prosecutors of the case, when Bolsonaro said that he would never rape the congresswomen because she didn’t deserve it, he implied that a man could rape a woman that he finds “deserving of it.” In his defense, Bolsonaro said that he had been offended by the congresswoman, who had previously stated that he was partly responsible for the rapes committed in Brazil due to his misogynistic behavior.
On his Twitter account, Bolsonaro made fun of the decision, questioning if ethics and morals are now a crime. The congressman is among those who believe that being a rich, white male gives him minority status.