Brazil’s high court has ruled that homophobia and transphobia will now be included in the South American country’s laws banning racism.
In an 8-3 vote, Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court agreed to criminalize discrimination against LGBTQ people.
Passed in 1989, the country’s statutes outlawing racism allow prison sentences of up to five years.
USA Today reports that Justice Carmen Lucia noted in her ruling that “the LGBT community is treated differently in Brazil’s ‘discriminatory society,’ and as a result face a higher rate of violence.”
Although Brazil legalized same-sex marriage in 2013, violence against LGBTQ individuals is common.
Grupo de Bahia, an organization that tracks LGBT hate crimes, reported in January 2018 that there were 387 murders in Brazil during 2017. All of those were directly related to homophobia or transphobia. In 2018, the number of LGBTQ people murdered rose to 420.
Activists say the increase in violence correlates to some degree with the election of virulently homophobic President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office in January this year.
Bolsonaro has made no secret the disdain he holds for LGBTQ people.
His record as a lawmaker includes a long history of anti-LGBTQ votes, and he promised to erase pro-LGBTQ and pro-women movements during the 2018 campaign.
In a 2011 interview, he told Playboy Brazil he would prefer to have a dead son than a gay son
And the new president has also downplayed “gay tourism” in his country.
“If you want to come here and have sex with a woman, go for your life,” he told Crusoe Magazine in April. He added that Brazil “cannot be a country for gay tourism because we have families here.”