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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 3 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 40
Brazil: Most dangerous country in the world for Gays?
Section One
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Brazil: Most dangerous country in the world for Gays?

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

What is the most dangerous country in the world for LGBT folks?

You might answer Uganda, where parliament was considering a law to execute 'habitual' Gays. Or Zimbabwe, where the president regularly compares Gays to dogs and pigs. Or Russia, where neo-Nazis gangs lure young Gay men into ambushes, and laws forbid people even to say they are Gay or Lesbian.

Very few people would say Brazil. Yet Brazil has the highest rate of LGBT murders in the world, according to a group of Brazilian activists who tracked anti-Gay hate crimes this year.

The Gay Group of Bahia compiled hate crime data from January 1 through September 29, sifting through police records and news reports, since there is no official reporting of anti-Gay hate crimes as a separate category of crime.

They found that at least 216 LGBT people had been murdered in Brazil in the first three quarters of the year. The greatest number of victims were Gay men - 59% of the total. 'Transvestites' accounted for 35% of the victims, although it is not clear if that term includes Transgender people. Lesbians accounted for 4% of the victims.

The region of Brazil with the most cases was the Northeast, with 43% of the total. The city with more cases per capita was Cuiabá, with 0.03 homicides per 1,000 inhabitants.

The group's research confirms what many other sources having been saying about anti-Gay crime in Brazil.

According to the National Secretariat of Human Rights, there were 337 cases of anti-Gay incidents from January to April this year, the equivalent of more than two per day.

São Paulo had the most, with 97 cases, or 28% of the total, followed by Mines, with 31, or 9%.

Last December, Gustavo Bernardes, coordinator for LGBT rights for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, admitted that 44% of the world's anti-LGBT violence takes place in Brazil.

While Brazil does have hate crime laws on the books, crimes against LGBT residents are reportedly treated only as ordinary assaults.

'Nowadays [an anti-Gay attack] is treated as a normal assault crime, while a hate crime has greater penalties,' LGBT activist Carlos Tufvesson said.

LGBT activists say they want new laws that treat homophobia as a serious crime, in the same way that Brazilian law treats racism.

Charlemagne Fonseca, president of the Brazilian Association of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transvestites and Transsexuals, called on the government to produce official data on crimes against LGBT Brazilians. That project would be facilitated by criminalizing homophobia, she added.

'The LGBT debate and the fight against homophobia can not be moral and religious matters, it has to be a political issue,' Fonseca said.

LGBT protections have become an issue in the upcoming Brazilian presidential election, with two leading candidates, Rousseff and Marina Silva, supporting more protections for LGBT Brazilians, and a fringe candidate, Levy Fidelix, launching into an anti-Gay rant in a televised debate.

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