On September 8th, Marcelo Gandelman, partner at Souto Correa Advogados, obtained a favorable and socially relevant ruling before the Brazilian Supreme Court (STF) on behalf of GL Events, which organized the 19th Biennial Book Fair of Rio de Janeiro.
On September 5th, Rio’s evangelical mayor, Marcelo Crivella, ordered the city’s renowned book fair to seize copies of Marvel’s “Avengers: The Children’s Crusade”, which was published in 2010 and featured a gay kiss between two male characters in a committed relationship, stating: “People, we need to protect our children. […] It is not right for them to have early access to things which are not in accordance with their age group.”
The move was widely considered as homophobic censorship, resulting in protests at the event, particularly after a court decision allowed the ban, which ended up being overruled by the Supreme Court. After extensive social outcry, the mayor tried to explain his decision: “It is not censorship or homophobia as many people think. […] We just want to protect our children, fight in defense of Brazilian families and comply with the law.” It would not matter, though: when the mayor’s officials arrived at the book fair on September 6th to seize the items, even before the court rulings, all copies of Marvel’s book had already sold out.
Mr. Crivella used Brazil’s Statute of the Child and Adolescent (ECA) to sustain his position, as the law indicates artwork which is inadequate for children and adolescents must be sealed. However, the Brazilian Bar Association’s Commission for the Rights of the Child and Adolescent considered the statute’s rules only applicable to those cases which involve images of explicit nudity or sex. According to Mr. Gandelman: “There was no disrespect regarding ECA from the book fair or any exhibitor, as the drawing representing a kiss between two men cannot be considered as pornography.”
Besides all legal and social demonstrations in support of the book fair and the LGBTQI community, well-known Brazilian youtuber Felipe Neto bought and gave away thousands of copies of LGBTQI-related books at the fair, wrapped in plastic with the warning “book inappropriate for backward and prejudiced people.” Thankfully, as Jim Cheung, a British comic book artist known for his work on many Marvel series, including “Avengers: The Children’s Crusade”, stated: “The LGBTQ community is here to stay.”