The new president, frequently criticised for remarks disparaging women, gays and black people, posted a tweet on Tuesday including a video showing a man urinating on another man’s head, as a way of denouncing what he sees as moral degeneracy in the country.
“I don’t feel comfortable showing it, but we have to expose the truth so the population can be aware and always set their priorities. This is what many street carnival groups have become in Brazil,” Bolsonaro tweeted.
“This is what many street parties in Brazil’s Carnival have become. Comment and draw your conclusions,” he added.
The video quickly racked up 2.43 million views after the former army officer posted it, widening divisions in the already split population.
One of the main hashtags trending on Twitter was #ImpeachmentBolsonaro, while another was #BolsonaroTemRazao, or “Bolsonaro is right.” A third top hashtag was #goldenshowerpresident.
Some critics denounced the president for using an isolated scene to attack the country’s wildly popular annual carnival, which this year has been used as a platform by many to protest Bolsonaro’s intolerance towards minorities.
Others, including some on the right, said that posting such footage was below the dignity of his office, and had spread the video to a wider audience, including children.
Carnival-goers across Brazil have launched demonstrations against the president amid the street parties, commonly referred to as “blocos”, including a chanting crowd that formed outside his Rio home during public celebrations this week.
Sworn in as Brazil’s 38th president on January 1, Bolsonaro tapped into widespread discontent with the economy and political elites to beat leftist challenger Fernando Haddad in the country’s October presidential elections.
But while Bolsonaro’s bid for office proved successful, with support from Brazil’s powerful evangelical community a crucial component of his victory, his candidacy also met forceful resistance from large sections of society concerned by his numerous controversial comments on issues including race, gender and sexual orientation.
A former army captain, Bolsonaro has also spoken out in favour of torture and Brazil’s former military dictatorship, which ruled the country from 1964 to 1985.