SÃO PAULO, Brazil — A controversy has erupted in Brazil after organizers of an art exhibition on gender and sexual diversity caved to pressure from conservative groups and canceled the show — rekindling a political firestorm that gripped the country last year when the country’s first female president was impeached.
The offending images in the display — Queermuseu, or Queer Museum — included a baby monkey snuggling in the Virgin Mary’s arms, sacramental wafers with the words “vagina” and “tongue” written on them and naïve-style portraits of smiling children spray-painted with tags like “transvestite” and “gay child.”
Critics — some of whom had also demanded the impeachment of the president — accused the artists of promoting pedophilia and child pornography. Rowdy protesters harassed museumgoers outside and inside the exhibition and posted a video that was seen by more than 1.4 million viewers on Facebook.
On Sunday, Santander Bank unexpectedly closed the exhibition, which is at its cultural center in the southern city of Pôrto Alegre, a month ahead of schedule. The curator found out when a friend of his sent him a text message.
“I was completely taken by surprise,” said the curator, Gaudencio Fidelis, in a telephone interview. “It is not normal for an institution to give into pressure like this.”