By Fabio Teixeira
RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct 8 (Openly) - Brazil, which had halted funding for about 80 films including a handful with LGBT+ themes, must resume the financing a federal judge has ruled, granting a victory to LGBT+ and other film-makers whose upcoming grants had been frozen.
Brazil's citizenship minister Osmar Terra ordered the suspension in August, days after the country's right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro criticized four LGBT+ themed films and said that supporting such movies was "throwing money away."
ANCINE, the country's film agency, halted about R$ 70 million ($17.13 million) in grants slated for some 80 films, including four which dealt with LGBT+ themes.
"Freedom of expression, equality and non-discrimination deserve the protection of the Judiciary power," judge Laura Carvalho wrote in granting the injunction requested by federal prosecutors who argued the funding freeze was discriminatory.
The temporary measure can still be taken up for review by higher courts.
In suspending the financing, Terra said the freeze could last up to 360 days during which time the government would restructure the committee responsible for allocating ANCINE's resources.
Carvalho dismissed that reasoning in her Monday ruling, finding that the committee had no actual power to decide how funds for the 80 movies would be allocated.
The citizenship ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Prosecutors also requested that Terra be fined and also banned from political office for up to eight years for administrative misconduct, alleging he was targeting the LGBT+ screenplays.
Brazil's Supreme Court ruled in June that homophobia and transphobia are crimes.
"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," prosecutors argued in a legal filing.
Lawyers, artists and politicians are pushing back against what they describe as rising censorship of LGBT+ artistic expression under Bolsonaro, the newly elected conservative who once described himself as a homophobe.
Emerson Maranhao, one of the directors who applied for funding, said while the judge's decision was a win the battle was far from over as the government can appeal.
"Justice was done," he told Thomson Reuters Foundation on Tuesday. "We are living lonely times, but decisions like this make me feel like we are back to living in a democracy."
($1 = 4.0865 reais) (Reporting by Fabio Teixeira; Editing by Chris Michaud. Please credit 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 www.trust.org)
Openly is an initiative of the Thomson Reuters Foundation dedicated to impartial coverage of LGBT+ issues from around the world.
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.