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Homophobia has been responsible for the killing of 2,403 gays, lesbians, and transvestites in Brazil in the last 20 years. At the end of 2003, the government launched the Brazil Without Homophobia Program. This was a historic moment for the advance of homosexuals’ human rights.

GLTB and Human Rights in 2004: A Summary

* Toni Reis

 The year 2004 has been notable with regard to advances in the area of human rights for gays, lesbians, transgenders, and bisexuals (GLTB) in Brazil. On the other hand, there were also some reversals and the loss of individuals of great importance to the Movement.

Brazil Without Homophobia Program

 After several years of consultation with organized civil society regarding the National Plan for Human Rights, to implement positive and affirmative changes for GLTB people, the government launched the Brazil Without Homophobia Program. This was a historic moment in the advance of homosexuals’ human rights.

 Homophobia is the fear of, aversion to, or irrational hatred of homosexuals: persons who have an emotional and sexual attraction to people of the same sex. It is the primary cause of discrimination and violence against homosexuals.

 Homophobia has been responsible for the killing of 2,403 gays, lesbians, and transvestites in Brazil in the last 20 years (Source: Grupo Gay da Bahia). It is responsible for the attitudes and behaviors documented in the research on “Youth and Sexualities” performed by UNESCO in 14 Brazilian cities in the year 2000, with 16,422 students, 3,099 educators, and 4,532 parents of students from 241 schools, where: 27% of the students would not like to have homosexuals as classmates; 35% of the students’ parents would not like their children to have homosexuals as classmates; and 15% of the students considered homosexuality to be a disease. In itself, the publication of “Youth and Sexualities” by UNESCO is of major importance for the GLTB cause, officially backing up our claims.

 Homophobia can be obvious, as in the above examples, or veiled, involving discrimination in selection for employment, rental of housing, entry into the armed forces, medical school, dental school…Whatever its manifestation, homophobia inevitably involves injustice and social exclusion.

 In order to contribute to the reversal of this situation, the plan for the Brazil Without Homophobia Program contains 53 actions involving: Articulation and Development of Policy for the Promotion of the Rights of Homosexuals; Legislation and Justice; International Cooperation; the Right to Safety: combating violence and impunity; the Right to Education; promoting values with respect to peace and non-discrimination due to sexual orientation; the Right to Health: consolidating equal attention and treatment; the Right to Work: guaranteeing a policy on access and promotion without discrimination due to sexual orientation; the Right to Culture: constructing a policy on a culture of peace and values promoting human diversity; in addition to providing for Policies for Youth, Women, and against Racism.

 To achieve such a wide goal, the Program will involve 20 Ministries and Special Secretariats: the Ministries of Foreign Relations, Justice, Education, Health, Labor, and Culture, and the Special Secretariat on Policies for Women, the Special Secretariat on Policies for the Promotion of Racial Equality, the Special Secretariat on

 Human Rights, and the National Secretariat on Public Safety. It will also involve a series of other governmental organizations, such as the Nation Council on Combating Discrimination, State and Municipal Councils on Human Rights, State and Municipal Secretariats on Public Safety, Universities, the Office of the Federal Prosecutor for Citizens’ Rights, the Public Ministry of Labor, in addition to the Brazilian Parliament itself.

 Some actions provided for in the Brazil Without Homophobia Program are already in force. One example is the Ministry of Culture’s creation of the Working Group on Promotion of GLBT Citizenry, “for the purpose of drawing up a plan for the advancement, encouragement, and support of artistic and cultural productions that promote culture and non-discrimination for sexual orientation.” Similar working groups are being created by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, with the goal of fulfilling the objectives of the Brazil Without Homophobia Program.

National Council for Combating Discrimination (CNCD)

 CNCD’s participation in the Brazilian Homosexual Movement was expanded and gender representation was guaranteed, with a seat for a lesbian, a seat for a transgender, and a seat for a gay person.

Somos Project/ABGLT Advocacy Seminar

 For ABGLT, 2004 was important with regards to its organization and strengthening, thanks to the Somos Project Advocacy Seminar held in May, with the participation of GLT groups from almost all over the country. The Seminar also allowed for a rich exchange with UNESCO, the Ministry of Health, representatives from the National Congress, financing agencies, and the rest of the Brazilian networks that work with AIDS, in addition to the major communication media. It was an opportunity to learn, in a practical way, how to strengthen and organize ourselves even more.

 Among the principal results of the Seminar was the possibility of forming a strategic alliance between the networks of Lesbians, Transgenders, Harm Reduction, Sex Professionals, and those living with HIV and AIDS.

 The Seminar formulated five advocacy plans for areas considered critical for the GLTB population: 1) Implementation and Monitoring of the Brazil Without Homophobia Program; 2) Decentralization of Resources and Actions in STD and Aids with Gays and Others; 3) Approval of two laws by the National Congress (prohibiting discrimination due to sexual orientation and registry of civil partnerships); 4) the Brazilian Resolution in the UN’s Commission on Human Rights against discrimination due to sexual orientation; 5) The defense of a secular State that is against religious intolerance towards GLTB.

Municipal Elections

 Twenty-two candidates (13 gays, 6 transgenders, and 3 lesbians) ran in the 2004 municipal elections. A gay council member was elected in Vitória da Conquista and a transgender Vice Mayor was elected in the city of Colônia (PI).

Discriminatory Law

 On the negative side, 2004 was also marked by the approval of bills that clearly violate GLTB human rights. Among them are: PL 2279/03 (Federal Chamber) authored by Deputy Elimar Máximo Damasceno that makes it illegal the act of kissing between persons of the same sex in public; PL 2177/03 (Federal Chamber) authored by Deputy Neucimar Fraga that creates an aid and assistance program for sexual reorientation of persons who voluntarily opt for changing their sexual orientation from homosexuality to heterosexuality. There is also a similar bill in the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro, authored by State Deputy Pastor Édino Fonseca (PSC), which also provides support for the sexual reorientation program.


 It is saddening to note that Brazil still occupies the place of “world champion” when it comes to the killing of homosexuals. In Curitiba alone, six homosexuals have already been killed this year.

Brazilian Resolution Before the UN

 Under pressure from fundamentalist countries, voting on the Brazilian Resolution on Human Rights and Non Discrimination Due to Sexual Orientation was postponed again by the UN’s Commission on Human Rights, slated to be presented again in 2005.

AIDS Prevention Campaign for Gay Adolescents

 In August, the National STD and AIDS Program of the Ministry of Health launched a prevention campaign for gay youth. The campaign materials include a CD of a radio program with questions and answers about homosexuality, and the relationship between parents and children during adolescence.

GLTB Parades

 2004 also saw a record number of GLTB parades. These constituted the largest demonstration for human rights in Latin America and one of the largest in the world: 49 cities had parades in Brazil. Two years from now there will be a movement to take these parades to the interior of the country. Small and midsize cities already have these demonstrations. The São Paulo Parade this year was the largest civic demonstration in Brazil’s history, besides reaching the ranking as No. 1 in the World, with 1.8 million GLTB and supporters. This year, for the first time in history, a President supported a LGTB Pride parade.


* Toni Reis is General Secretary of the Brazilian Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Association—ABGLT.