After Rio de Janeiro’s evangelical mayor tried to ban an illustration of two male superheroes kissing from a book fair, one of Brazil’s biggest newspapers decided to put it on their front page.
The controversy kicked off last week after Rio Mayor Marcelo Crivella demanded that the Marvel comic book “Vingadores: A Cruzada Das Crianças” (“Avengers: The Children’s Crusade”) be withdrawn from sale at Rio’s biennial book fair because it shows male superheroes Wiccan and Hulkling kissing. The book was completely sold out at the book fair by Friday, organizers told Agence France-Presse.
The Folha De Sao Paulo newspaper said it used its Saturday front page and Sunday editorials to discuss the issue.
“The mission of professional journalism and a newspaper like Folha is to be uncompromising with obscurantist attempts and to shed light on threats of censorship,” said Sérgio Dávila, the paper’s editorial director.
The book was initially published in 2010. Its illustrator, Jim Cheung, said in a lengthy post on Instagram that the debacle “is now being drawn into the spotlight by the mayor perhaps only highlights how out of touch he might be with the current times.”
“The LGBTQ community is here to stay, and I have nothing but love and support for those who continue to struggle for validity and a voice to be heard,” Cheung said.
Crivella is a conservative evangelical who called homosexuality a “terrible evil” in his 1999 book “Evangelizing Africa.”
He wrote on Twitter “we need to protect our children,” and said that the fair was collecting books with “content that is unsuitable for minors.”
“It is not right for them to have early access to subjects that are not appropriate for their ages,” he said.
After his demand sparked backlash, he said in a subsequent tweet: “The decision to collect comic books at the Biennial had only one goal: to comply with the law and protect families.”
The organizers of the book fair responded by filing a preventive injunction with Rio de Janeiro’s Court of Justice Friday. In a statement posted on Instagram, the organizers said the injunction was intended to “ensure the full operation of the event and the right of exhibitors to market literary works on the most diverse themes – as foreseen by the Brazilian legislation.”
The book fair hosted events on topics including “happiness, science, motherhood, theater, trans literature, LGBTQA+ and more,” according to the Instagram post.