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Brazilian president says decision to criminalise homophobia 'completely wrong'

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Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro -
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Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro criticised the country's Supreme Court after they ruled to criminalise homophobia, making it a crime equivalent to racism in Brazil.

Bolsonaro told reporters on Friday the Supreme Court was "completely wrong" and had overstepped its powers, moving into legislative territory.

Judges who voted for the criminalisation of homophobia felt that in the absence of congressional action on this issue, the court could take it up.

Congress has a conservative majority under the influence of the Evangelical Church.

Bolsonaro said the court's decision would hurt homosexuals because an employer would "think twice" before hiring a gay person for fear of being accused of homophobia.

Bolsonaro also reiterated his desire to appoint an evangelical judge to the country's highest court, saying the court needed "balance".

Support from conservative Pentecostal churches helped Bolsonaro to win the election.

Bolsonaro is well known for his previous homophobic comments including stating that he "would be incapable of loving a homosexual son" and that they could not let Brazil become a "paradise for gay tourism".

The decision from the Supreme Court on Thursday was viewed by members of the LGBT community as historic in a country that has one of the highest murder rates for LGBT individuals.

According to the non-profit organisation Grupo Gay da Bahia (GGB), which has been collecting national statistics for four decades, there were 387 murders and 58 suicides in Brazil in 2017, due to what the association calls "homotransphobia" or negative feelings towards homosexuals or transsexuals.

Supreme Federal Court magistrate Carmen Lucia Antunes, in an emotional speech, said that "all human beings are born free and equal and should be treated with the same spirit of fraternity".

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