By Christine Murray
LONDON, Oct 3 (Openly) - Brazilian prosecutors have filed charges against the citizenship minister for suspending government funding for films, which they said was motivated by discrimination against LGBT+ people.
Brazil's film agency ANCINE halted around R$70 million ($17 million) in grants in August that were set to fund about 80 films, four of which were about the gay community.
The prosecutors on Wednesday asked the federal court in Rio de Janeiro to restore the funding and to fine citizenship minister Osmar Terra, who oversees ANCINE, for administrative misconduct and ban him from political office for eight years.
"As there was no legal way to prevent only the four projects from being excluded from the contest in its final phase, the 'solution' found was to sacrifice the entire process," the prosecutor's office said in a legal filing on its website.
The citizenship ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The ministry has previously said it had suspended the release of funds while it reviewed the way that ANCINE decided which films would receive grants.
Lawyers, artists and politicians are pushing back against what they describe as rising censorship of LGBT+ artistic expression under President Jair Bolsonaro, a self-proclaimed "proud" homophobe who came to power in January.
Although the Supreme Court criminalised homophobia and transphobia in June, Terra suspended public funding for films with LGBT+ themes in August after Bolsonaro described such support as "throwing money away".
Marcus Azevedo, one of the film directors who had applied for funding, said he was worried about the direction Brazil was headed.
"The violence is growing in Brazil against LGBT, against black people, women," said Azevedo, whose 2017 film Afronte told the story of a young, gay black man living in the federal capital Brasilia.
"Art is just one part of the whole situation."
($1 = 4.1273 reais) (Additional reporting by Fabio Teixeira in Rio de Janeiro. Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)
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