Brazil legislation proposes 2-8 years imprisonment for vaccine criticism
'Not submitting to mandatory vaccination must be considered a crime'
February 02, 2023|
A Brazilian citizen who refuses to be vaccinated during a public health emergency should face imprisonment for 2-8 years and a fine, according to legislation making its way through the Brazilian Congress. The same sentence would apply to someone who publicly criticizes the vaccine during a public health emergency with what is alleged to be “fake news”.
Furthermore, parents or legal guardians who neglect to inject their children with government-mandated vaccines during a public health emergency will face 1-3 years’ imprisonment.
The bill (PL 5555/2020), originally introduced by Senator Angelo Coronel (PSD) in 2021, has passed the Legislative Secretariat of the Federal Senate, according to The Rio Times. An online poll on the Senate’s website which was recently posted to social media shows that Brazilians overwhelmingly oppose the legislation, with 119,551 respondents voting No and 10,299 voting Yes.
“Public health is one of the most expensive and relevant assets of a nation,” reads the bill. “For this reason, in a public health emergency situation, the conduct of not submitting to mandatory vaccination must be considered a crime. In view of this finding, it is urgent to modify the Penal Code to hold accountable those who deliberately fail to attend to the immunization campaigns…”
“Likewise, the spread of false news about vaccines from the national immunization program, which discourage the vaccination, must be exemplarily punished, as a crime against public safety,” the bill added.
Another bill put forth by Congressman Fernando Rodolfo would punish those who cut in line for vaccinations with 2-5 years’ imprisonment and a fine.
The legislation was introduced during the Bolsonaro administration, which strongly opposed vaccine mandates and questioned the safety of the injections. But the bills are likely to find support from newly inaugurated President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who in December vowed to make those who opposed the COVID-19 vaccine apologize after he enters office.
"We can't, in a hasty way, think that we are going to announce the vaccine, and the people will get it. No. People have to be convinced again of the effectiveness of the vaccine, and we are going to have to get a lot of people who opposed the vaccine, who are going to have to apologize,” said Lula, according to CNN Brasil.
Lula, who practices Brazil’s official religion of Catholicism, also promised to go after Evangelical churches and confront them over their stance on the injections.
“I, at least, intend to go to several Evangelical churches and discuss with their leaders the following: 'What is your behavior regarding the vaccine issue? Or we will hold you responsible for people's deaths,” Lula said.