While LGBTI rights in Brazil are among the most advanced in Latin America and the world, the de facto situation of many LGBTI Brazilians is very difficult. Brazil is the country with the highest number of homotransphobic killings in the world. Before homosexuality emerged as a political issue in the 1970s when the country experienced a new wave of democratization after the military coup of 1964, sexual and gender identity rights were nearly nonexistent in governmental discourses. Over time, although LGBTI movement struggled against prejudices and stereotypes, lesbian, gay, transgender and intersex individuals became citizens with rights. Landmarks in the LGBTI movement’s history include the adoption of a liberal Constitution in 1988, that introduced gender equality as a constitutional right; the decision of the Justice’s National Council of Brazil to legalize same-sex marriage in the entire country in 2013 and the ruling of the Brazilian Supreme Court on the abolishment of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in 2019.

Other important achievements obtained by Brazil in order to set discrimination protections have been able to create a more inclusive and fair environment in the country. Among these decisions it is important to remember the ban imposed on practicing conversion therapy across the country since 1999. Other than that, Brazil recently allowed gay and bisexual men to donate blood, a right that has however been limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Concerning the role of LGBTI people in the military, the Constitution of Brazil prohibits the Brazilian Armed Forces to apply discriminatory measures towards LGBTI individuals, stating that sexual orientation does not represent an obstacle for being admitted into the police force. The judiciary, notably the Federal Supreme Court, has been the greatest champion of LGBTI rights, because the legislative hasn't managed to pass a single law that protects or guarantees the rights of LGBTI people. 

However, since President Bolsonaro came into power, the situation has worsened for LGBTI individuals in the country. Indeed, Bolsonaro is known for being against LGBTI rights and has in several occasions proved to be a racist and misogynist President, who spontaneously declared he would rather have a dead son than a homosexual son and who was deeply criticized for denying ‘’gay tourism’’ in Brazil. As a consequence, concerns have been raised over an escalation in crimes in Brazil after his election. As previously mentioned, Brazil is notoriously the country with the highest rate of LGBTI people being killed in the world, a trend that some fear might accelerate due to the election of a President that seeks by no means to protect queer individuals from hate crimes and violence.

In spite of all, there is a social tendency in the country to invite people to accept the LGBTI community and at the same time to condemn prejudice and homophobia. Every year LGBTI people and activists take part in the São Paulo Gay Pride Parade, an event that has been taking place since 1997 and represents an opportunity to raise awareness and bring visibility on the LGBTI world. The Parade is the biggest Pride celebration in the world, bringing together millions of people each year and attracting visibility in the Brazilian media, national magazines and newspapers.

Text by Sofia Busato.
Photo by Florencia Potter from Pexels

National Coalition of LGBTI rights defenders.

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