Brazil’s LGBTQ community faces surging violence, but they’re fighting back

Published in Open Democracy

By Robert Muggah and Pedro Augusto P. Francisto

Discrimination and violence against Brazil’s LGBTQ communities are widespread, yet often underreported. Consider the case of Julio Haag, a young school teacher, struck by a stone on his way home from teaching some years ago. His attacker claimed that Julio, who is gay, was looking at him suggestively. Years later, Julio considered running for the city council in Sarapiranga, a small municipality in Rio Grande do Sul. He withdrew his candidacy when his social media profiles were flooded with homophobic hate mail and threats. He worried that the next message coming his way could be a bullet.

In Brazil, LGBTQ people are disproportionately harassed and victimized precisely because of who they are. One reason is the deep strain of social conservatism in Brazilian society. Another is that Brazil is extremely violent: the country has the highest absolute number of homicides in the world, including many that are a result of hate crimes. Over 150 transgender people alone were killed in Brazil as of September 2020. This is 70% higher than in 2019, which means that the country has the highest levels of violence against trans in the world according to the National Association of Transvestites and Transsexuals (ANTRA).

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