In less than 24 hours, complaints about a gay kiss in a comic published three years ago came out of WhatsApp groups and ended up in the Rio de Janeiro Court of Justice. On the one hand, the Book Biennial and the publishers. On the other, Rio de Janeiro City Hall and Mayor Marcelo Crivella.
This week, an illustration of two HQ characters "Avengers - The Children's Crusade" giving a gay kiss began to circulate on WhatsApp. According to the messages, the copy had been purchased at the Book Biennial, which runs until this Sunday.
The news reached Marcelo Crivella's team, who posted a video on their social networks on Thursday night. In it, the mayor announces that he would censor the comic book, having the copies sold at the Biennial collected. According to the mayor, the kiss would be considered sexual content for minors, which would go against the Child and Adolescent Statute.
Legally, kissing is not considered pornography or sexual content. But from the video, the tension between the government and the Biennial has only grown.
On the same Thursday, the organization of the event received extrajudicial notification from the town hall demanding that copies with “scenes inappropriate for children and adolescents” containing “scenes of homotransexualism” should be sealed and accompanied by a warning. Otherwise, they should be collected, under penalty of seizure and forfeiture of the event license.
The notification generated concern, even with the Biennale saying it would not collect or seal copies.
At this Friday's opening at 9h, the comics of “Avengers - The Children's Crusade” could no longer be found at the fair - not at the Panini booth, which published the story with Salvat or the others selling comic books.
Officially, the exhibitors stated that the story was all sold out and sold out. But officials who spoke to the report said they were told to pick up titles that had LGBT characters or that could generate controversy, as there was a rumor that the city might be scrutinizing.
The visit took place. At noon, about ten city officials arrived. They were looking for copies of "Avengers" and titles that featured LGBT characters.
The team split to cover the entire area - among those present was the undersecretary of operations of the Municipal Secretariat of Public Order, Colonel Wolney Dias, former commander of the Military Police. In his waistcoat and sunglasses, he circulated among children and leafed through books at the booths.
“It's not censorship. We are complying with a recommendation from the District Attorney General, ”he told reporters. It was the first time such an oversight had taken place in the history of the Book Biennial.
The colonel was accompanied by photographer, cameraman and advisers. During his visit to the Comix and Panini booths, he was recorded and photographed while analyzing some titles. The other inspectors were at booths of traditional market publishers.
At 14h15, when the visit ended, Dias was asked if he had found anything at the Biennial. "Lots of books," he said. According to the city, no work was found unsuitable for minors.
Asked if he had ever been to the Biennial, Dias said yes. Asked when this happened, he didn't know exactly. "It's been a long time, a long time," he said.
Even without the city finding something inappropriate, the Bienal organization filed a preventive injunction with the court on Friday. An injunction was granted. In it, the court prevents the city to seize books and revoke the license.
The decision states that it is not the municipality's responsibility to carry out this type of inspection and that “such a posture reflects offense to the freedom of expression constitutionally guaranteed”.
“The Children's Crusade” was published by Marvel in the United States in 2010. In 2012, Panini published the Brazilian version in two magazines, and in 2016 it was published in one volume by Salvat.
Salvat editor Fernando Lopes says that “there is immense care with the published material. If there is profanity, we put the advice of inadvisable for children under 16 years. If there is mention of inappropriate sex or scene, we recommend against minors under 18. ”
“I do not agree with the decision of the municipality and it seems to me purely homophobia. If I don't censor a Superman kiss with Lois Lane, if I censor between two gay characters, the homophobic would be me, ”says the editor.
In a statement, Panini rejected “any attempt to discriminate against its publications or those of third parties”.
The action of the city generated a reaction among the publishers at the Biennial, who manifested mostly against the decision of Crivella. Record printed excerpts of the Constitution on freedom of expression and the STF ruling criminalizing homophobia.
Crivella spoke again on Friday and did not speak again about sexual content. He said there was “some controversy in the press” over his decision and he wants to defend the laws and the family.
Rodrigo Azambuja, coordinator of the Defense of the Rights of the Child and Adolescent of the Public Defender of Rio de Janeiro, thinks differently. “Expressions of love and affection are widespread and the Supreme Court has already established that all families deserve state protection. This is abuse of authority and, worse, criminalizes that conduct shown in the comic. ”
The Ombudsman filed a request from a interested party in the preventive injunction. The Rio Public Prosecution Service did not comment, as nothing was collected.