Although Sao Paulo hosted in 2010 the biggest gay parade in the world, with over 3.3 million people, Brazil suffers from one of the highest numbers of hate crimes in Latin America. The fear of homosexuality in the country is increasingly being expressed through horrific crimes nationwide, as reported by multiple sources. The Latin-American Center on Sexuality and Human Rights has identified that the states of Parana and Bahia have the two highest numbers of crimes against homosexuals in the country and at least 15 people were killed in each Brazilian state in 2009, simply for being members of the LGBT community. According to Senator Fatima Cleide, from the state of Rondonia, one person dies every two days, as a victim of homophobic crimes in Brazil. The Brazilian gay rights group Grupo Gay da Bahia (GGB), which is funded by the World Bank and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), estimates that between 1980 and 2009 well over 3,100 homosexuals were killed by hate crimes in the country.
Brazil is at a pivotal moment in its history. The new administration can choose between allowing hate crimes to continue festering the nation’s stance towards human rights, or promote respect and equality for all. Its neighboring country, Argentina, has already shown the world that progress is not only possible but it also ought to be considered imminent in Latin America. Brazilians can, if they decide to do so, show their leadership and put an end to homophobic hate crimes in the nation, reverse the titles held by Parana and Bahia, and become a promoter of equality.
While hundreds of people die every year based on hate crimes, Brazilian Congress has struggled since 2006 to approve legislation categorizing homophobic violence as crimes. Religious and conservative interests have proven to be strong and effective opponents to this human rights law.
Not only are Brazilian LGBTs treated as second-class citizens, but people are dying because of this. Successful professionals, loving couples, and young boys and girls, among many others, are suffering of intolerance and are being killed because of the lack of action of society and legislators. It is an unfair reality. The question I have for the readers and the country’s newly elected politicians is: When will ALL Brazilians be protected and have equal rights under law?