Jean Wyllys in 2015.
|Member of the Chamber of Deputies|
from Rio de Janeiro
Assumed office |
1 February 2011
10 March 1974|
Alagoinhas, Bahia, Brazil
Jean Wyllys (born Jean Wyllys de Matos Santos[a] on 10 March 1974 in Alagoinhas, Bahia, Brazil) is a Brazilian lecturer, journalist and politician who rose to fame after winning the fifth season of Big Brother Brasil. He is also notable as being Brazil's second openly gay member of parliament. (Clodovil Hernandes was the first openly gay elected member of Parliament, but unlike Wyllys, Clodovil was not a gay rights activist, i.e. he was opposed to same-sex marriage.)
Wyllys was born in Alagoinhas, in the north-eastern state of Bahia, one of seven children. His mother was a washerwoman and his father a car painter who suffered from alcoholism. Wyllys attended a boarding school which gave him the opportunity to get a better education than the average child in his village. Wyllys later moved to Salvador and completed his degree in journalism at the Federal University of Bahia. He first rose to fame after becoming the finalist in the Brazilian reality television show, Big Brother Brasil. He was the first openly gay participant in the show, which caused a lot of controversy amongst fans and participants alike. Wyllys described his victory as being of "great political relevance [...] I said I was a homosexual and I still won the programme in a country that is homophobic."
In 2010 Wyllys was elected a federal MP, representing the Socialism and Freedom party, with an average of 13,000 votes. His election was only possible, considering the number of votes he had in 2010 elections, through the so called "voto de legenda" (party vote), a constitutional mechanism that allows candidates who doesn't have an expressive number of votes to be elected from the votes of another highly voted candidate of the same party. In Wylly's case, the votes of another congressman of Socialism and Liberty Party, Chico Alencar, who was one of the most voted in Rio de Janeiro, helped in his election. Once occupying a chair in Brazilian Congress, Wyllys brought his activism on the LGBT movement to the scene. Once forgotten by Brazilian media since his winning in the Big Brother Brasil fifth season in 2005, five years before his election, he was finally back to the spotlight from the moment he started working on his political platform, that was primarily the fight for LGBT rights. By doing this, he ended up confronting prominent Brazilian right-wing figures, like pastor Silas Malafaia, a famous televangelist and national president of Assembly of God Churches, and Jair Bolsonaro, a congress member who became Wylly's number one enemy in the congress. The proposition of three polemic law projects by Wyllys made him a notorious figure for the liberal and leftist society members, as well as a threatening fugure for some conservative and the religious members. In those law projects are included the prostitution houses legalization, the marijuana production and use regulation, the inclusion of Arabic and Islam studies in Brazilian school curricula and the State financing for sex reassignment surgeries and hormonal treatment for transgender teenagers and adults.
Wylly's political acting of defending minority rights and his very existence as an openly gay congress member and human rights activist have transformed him in a public enemy of conservative political forces in Brazil. In a country with a wide rate of homophobic crimes as Brazil, he began to receive death threats that became more recurrent since his political enemies started a slanderous campaign against him by posting and sharing in social media like Facebook images with quotes that he have supposedly said about being an openly pedophile defender, for example. Among other quotes attributed to him, the one that he had affirmed that the Bible was "a joke" Christians and Bible followers were "clowns" was highly spread. In spite of those quotes had never been existed, people in social networks still share them, strengthening the ongoing hate campaign against Wyllys. To clean up his image damaged by that orchestrated campaign, he created a section on his official webpage where he refutes all the quotes attributed to him. Although his political image in the public sphere had been degraded by the slanderous campaign, he ran for congress once again in 2014 and kept his chair in the parliament with more than 100,000 votes, being the seventh most voted representative of Rio de Janeiro.
Today Wyllys works on the front line of Michel Temer's government opposition. It was announced in 2015 that Brazilian independent filmmakers were planning to produce a documentary about Wylly's political career and acting. The documentary was released in 2016 with the title "Entre os Homens de Bem" (Among the Virtuous Men) and it focuses on the political arena in Brazil built on topics such as gay marriage and other LGBT rights, having Wyllys and some conservative politicians as the main characters. In the same year, Wyllys was included in a list called "Top 50 global personalities with an outstanding commitment to diversity".
- Brazilian Portuguese: [ʒeˈɐ̃ ˈwiljs d͡ʒj ˈmatws ˈsɐ̃tws].
- Jean Wyllys, Brazil's first openly gay MP, takes fight to the religious right, Guardian, retrieved 27 January 2012
-  With about 500 thousand votes, Clodovil is the first gay elected for federal deputy (Portuguese)