Sexual and reproductive rights under attack: the advance of political and moral conservatism in Brazil

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21/10/2021 12:00 am

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This article discusses political setbacks related to sexual and reproductive health and rights that have occurred in Brazil in the last 5 years (2014–2018) resulting from the significant role played by Christian (Evangelical and Catholic) parliamentarians in the legislative branch. Political initiatives aimed at prohibiting the affirmation of sexual and reproductive rights, while also curtailing debate about sexuality and gender in schools and universities, have raised “moral panic” within some elements of Brazilian society. The discursive strategies used around so-called “gender ideology” stimulated the formation of civil organisations which promote morality based on right-wing political positions. For this study, we looked at official documents and bibliographic material to examine how issues related to abortion rights, health care in cases of sexual violence, the prevention of sexually transmitted infections and homosexual citizenship are currently being suppressed, compromising the defence and advancement of the sexual and reproductive rights of women and the LGBTI+ population. The results point to the steady weakening of public policies that had become law in the 1980s, a time of Brazilian re-democratisation after two decades of military dictatorship. A wide range of civil, political and social rights, which saw significant growth and consolidation over the last 20 years, were rolled back after the resurgence of the extreme right wing in the federal legislature, culminating in the election of the current president in October 2018. However, social movements have increased in strength in the last few decades, especially the black feminist and LGBTI+ rights movements. These movements continue to provide political resistance, striving to affirm and protect all sexual and reproductive rights achieved to date.

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