One of the world's largest LGBT Pride parades took center stage in Sao Paulo on Sunday with the carnivalesque festivities tinged with unease over Brazil's conservative political climate under President Jair Bolsonaro. As many as three million people were expected to take part in the annual march through the heart of Brazil's economic capital, traditionally an exuberant celebration of camp, color and fantasy. But this year, many participants said they were turning out because they feel their liberties are increasingly under threat.
"I came to fight against homophobia and disrespect," said 31-year-old Monique Barber, who said she faced verbal attacks at the start of the march. "We have a homophobic politician and we are seeing things go backwards. Just imagine being attacked at the LGBT march itself," she said.
Bolsonaro, a right-wing former military officer who was elected president last year, has a long history of homophobic, racist and chauvinist remarks. Since taking office January 1, he has doubled down on that anti-gay posture, calling a recent Supreme Court decision criminalizing homophobia "an error."
Marina Fernandes, 19, said she was taking part in the march for the first time in support of LGBT rights, although she identifies as heterosexual. "I came because I feel empathy and because I believe in respect for others. You don't have to be homosexual for that," she said.