Brazilian Judges Give Differing Rulings on Mayor's Comics Content Crackdown

On September 6, a Brazilian judge decreed that the order of sweeping and censoring books containing LGBTQIA+ content at the Bienal do Livro (Brazil’s most prominent literary event) enacted by Rio de Janeiro’s Mayor, Marcello Crivella, was illegal under Brazilian law and contradicted articles of Brazil’s constitution, which protects freedom of expression. However, the president of the Court of Justice later backed up Crivella's act of censorship, prompting the mayor to return to the Bienal for the third day in a row to conduct a sweeping.

The mayor’s agents left the Bienal empty-handed on Thursday, as Avengers: The Children's Crusade -- which was being explicitly targeted -- had sold out minutes after the news of the sweeping reached the exhibitors. Crivella doubled down, extending his order of identifying, covering, marking and, if needed, requisitioning any volume that contained LGBTQIA+ characters or situations. The police agents came back on Friday to carry out his orders.

RELATED: Brazilian Mayor Blasts Marvel, Orders Police 'Sweep' of Young Avengers Book

However, the publishers fought back. Editora Galera's Rafaella Machado, who has been publishing Young Adult LGBTQIA+ books since 2014, consulted with her legal team, who said Crivella’s actions were illegal under Brazilian law. Machado then printed and distributed the constitution to every exhibitor at the Bienal, advising them to refuse to comply with the three teams of agents that were inspecting potentially offending books.

Crivella, through his City Council, responded by starting to retire the license of operations to the organizers of the Bienal do Livro because they had refused to cooperate.

Things started to look up on Friday evening, when judge Heleno Ribeiro Pereira Nunes suspended the cancellation of the Bienal’s license, ruling the mayor’s actions illegal and saying any further measures to censor, requisition or otherwise legally frame LGBTQIA+ literature as pornography should immediately stop.

At the same time, Brazilian YouTuber Felipe Neto, who owns, among others IGN Brazil Network, purchased the entire 14,000 LGBTQIA+ book stock of the Bienal, and announced on his channel that he would be giving them out for free to everyone on Saturday, September 7. The books would then be wrapped in opaque black plastic and marked with a sticker reading, "This is an improper book for archaic, retrograde and prejudiced people."

In his video manifesto, Felipe Neto sharply deviated from his usual satirical, pop-culture tone to say. "The mayor was never uncomfortable with comic’s violent scene, blood, war, gunshots, fights or bombings. None of that bothers him. What bothers him and makes him uncomfortable is love between people of the same sex."

"To frame homosexual love within the laws of pornography and content unsuitable for minors is an absolute act of censorship," Neto continued. "It’s low and cowardly, and us, as a society, cannot accept that. From the moment that we, as a society, accept that Mayor Crivella does this at the Rio de Janeiro’s Bienal do Livro, we are simply opening a door to repression, a door that can lead us to totalitarian and absolutist control of the entertainment consumed by the people.”

Brazilian composer and activist Caetano Veloso responded to the video, praising the giveaway as a truly good act that shows a deep understanding of what a society is. "The Brazilian society exists, and the Brazilian society resists,” said Veloso.

As Neto's book-giving operation was going on, judge Claudio de Mello Tavares, president of the Court of Justice, annulled the previous decision and said mayor Crivella had the right to perform the first sweep.

De Mello Tavares reasoned that the comic book in question, Avengers: The Children's Crusade, was aimed at children and teenagers, with the scene of Wiccan and Hulkling kissing falling outside the usual themes of the superhero genre. As the book had not been marked as containing improper content to warn parents, Crivella was within the law to requisition it.

Mayor Crivella is still accusing Avengers: The Children’s Crusade of featuring “Homotransexual (sic) and improper content.” He has since ordered the return of his agents to the Bienal to sweep for any book that features “homotransexual” content, not just the sold-out Marvel volume.

KEEP READING: Brazilian Mayor Extends Content Crackdown Beyond Young Avengers Ban

(via O Globo)

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