Hate and Intolerance Find Support in Brazil's House of Representative

Hate and intolerance have a new stage: Brazil’s House of Representatives.  While the legislative body was created for reason and discourse, one of its elected officials has found ways to degrade the federal body by promoting racism and intolerance.  Rio de Janeiro’s congressman Jair Bolsonaro is flagrantly using the legislative chamber to make racist comments against blacks and LGBT citizens, and to disseminate militaristic ideals.

During an interview with a national humoristic program, Mr. Bolsonaro was asked how he would feel if he found his son dating a black woman. He took this as an opportunity to make racist comments and indicated that he would “never allow this kind of promiscuity” (youtube video in Portuguese).  While this interview was widely publicized and has led to a huge debate about racism in Brazil’s society, it is a shame that an elected official would even dare to speak this way of any civil group or minority.   As if that weren’t enough, Mr. Bolsonaro has also expressed his support for military regimes over democratic governments.

It is absurd that an elected official would dare to utter such words.  A person that believes that the military regime is better than democracy and who thinks that minorities aren’t humans with equal rights, ought not to be called a legislator.  Mr. Bolsonaro is on his sixth consecutive term as Federal Representative for the State of Rio de Janeiro. It has been 21 years since he was first elected… What’s even worse is that he is not alone in his attitude and racist ideals.

Another Representative, this time from the State of Sao Paulo, Mr. Marco Feliciano, wrote in his Twitter account that “the filth in homoaffective feelings are conduits to hate, crime and rejection” and that “Africans descend from ancestors cursed by Noah.”

When elected official make comments such as the ones quoted in this article, racist and oppressive groups feel empowered and justified when attacking vulnerable groups.  Just last week, Sao Paulo’s police identified 200 members of skinhead gangs that attacked and in many cases killed members of the black and homosexual communities in the city.  According to a Brazilian gay group, 260 LGBT individuals were killed in Brazil in 2010, which represented 31% increase from 2009 and a 113% increase from 2005.

It is disturbing to know that those who are in charge of approving laws to protect society are the same people responsible for spreading hate and intolerance. We will only be able to reduce the number of hate crimes in Brazil when the country’s citizens demand that the rights of everyone, including the country’s minorities, are respected and protected.  It is imperative that the legislative system focuses on the creation of  laws designed to fight racism and hate crimes. Brazilians deserve better, much better.


Homophobic Hate Crimes Spreading Throughout Brazil

Alexandre Ivo, a 14-year-old boy, was tortured and killed in June 2010 in Rio de Janeiro.  Why? Because he was gay. Ms. Patricia Gomes and Ms.Sandra de Moraes, two female professors living in Parana, were killed in their own home in December of 2009.  Why? Because they were lovers.

Sao Paulo Gay Pride 2010

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?

Anti-Homosexuality Bill could mean a death sentence for LGBT People in Uganda

Uganda is a country where the human rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) community have been stripped away by anti-gay legislation already on the books. The country’s LGBT community has a history of being harassed and silenced by the government and the Ugandan police. A new bill is now being proposed that goes even further by imposing sentences ranging from seven years in prison to death for either being gay or supporting anyone who is. The new Anti-Homosexuality Bill being considered by Uganda’s Parliament proposes a life sentence for engaging in “homosexual activity” and the death sentence for “aggravated homosexuality”.  The bill also imposes a sentence of seven years in prison for anyone providing protection or assistance to LGBT individuals, threatening the valuable work of human rights activists and organizations operating in Uganda.

If this bill is allowed to pass it could have global ripple effects for LGBT activists all over the world. Even Ugandans living abroad, under the proposed bill, could face extradition and imprisonment if charged with being homosexual or in aiding homosexuals in Uganda. If past harassment of the Ugandan LGBT community is any indicator, the proposed bill would likely lead to witch hunts, more harassments, violence, and even extrajudicial executions. The bill’s “nullification” of international treaties that would offer a form of protection or recourse for Uganda’s LGBT people and LGBT activists further limits the role of international bodies and governments.

The proposed bill has garnered attention in the U.S. due to a recent New York Times article citing a link between recent visits by anti-gay American evangelicals and the introduction of the bill. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST