Human rights for some in Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil

Despite fears from activists, human rights was the most popular issue in bills approved by Brazilian lawmakers last year

human rights bolsonaro
Demonstration against Jair Bolsonaro in 2018. Photo: Dado Photos/Shutterstock

Once the results came in and Jair Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil in October 2018, human rights defenders around the country feared the worst. Mr. Bolsonaro’s far-right platform takes a skewed view of the very concept of “human rights,” with many of his supporters understanding the term as synonymous with protecting criminals.

Concerns were raised higher when Mr. Bolsonaro appointed lawyer and Evangelical pastor Damares Alves to head the Ministry of Women, Family, and Human Rights. Ms. Alves gained notoriety for her ultra-conservative comments on gender issues, declaring at her inauguration that Brazil was “entering a new...

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