An increase in violent crimes against Brazil’s LBGT community has many activists concerned that such attacks are being carried out by those emboldened by a culture of blatant homophobia that starts at the top in government leadership.
Recently, in the Brazilian city of Florianopolis, a 22-year-old gay man was gang-raped and tortured, prompting swift reaction in the country. LGBTQ advocates and human rights campaigners point to a list of growing incidents that indicate the rise in hate crimes is a worsening problem.
The young adult victim, whose identity has not been revealed, was attacked by three armed men. Reportedly, the men also assaulted the victim with sharp objects and sadistically forced the man to carve homophobic slurs into his own body. Thankfully someone found the man on the street where the assailants had left him and received treatment at a local hospital. The Guardian reports that the man is safely home now recovering from the “barbaric” attack.
When Brazilian human rights activists express concerns of homophobia “coming from the top,” undoubtedly they call into question the country’s overtly homophobic, worse-than-Trump president, Jair Bolsanaro. Bolsanaro has a nasty habit of hurling homophobic slurs at his detractors and has declared himself “proudly homophobic.”
Some of Bolsanaros most outrageous comments are as follows,
In 2011, he told Playboy: “I would be incapable of loving a gay son. I prefer that he die in an accident” and has also previously compared gay kisses to “a pedophile’s right to have sex with a 2-year-old.” He said he would punch couples kissing in public, Pink News
During a 2013 interview with Stephen Fry, Bolsonaro said that “homosexual fundamentalists” were brainwashing children so they could “satisfy them sexually in the future,” The Guardian reported.
Much like the rise in American hate crimes can be traced directly back to Donald Trump’s rhetoric and that of his minions, the moronic and dangerous words of Bolsanaro are potentially to blame for encouraging anti-gay violence. Leaders have a great responsibility to unite all people and not demonize certain groups because of antiquated phobias.
My personal experience with Brazil in 2020 was beautiful, though my partner and I navigated the 3-week trip cautiously. We researched the country’s customs, daily living constructs, and politics for months leading up to our trip. We were aware that crime rates had been rising in significant tourism cities such as Rio. There is a clear line between the perceived wealthy residents and tourists flocking to the luxury areas of town and the impoverished, often-dangerous favellas (poor villages) on the city’s outskirts.
We were also aware of the rise of hate crime attacks against gay people and the very incendiary homophobia of the country’s president. Still, we decided to go and planned our trip accordingly, utilizing a trusted local tour guide and with the help of friends who are natives of Rio. Despite all, there is still a thriving and vibrant LGBTQ community in major cities like Rio and Sao Paulo, and gay tourism contributes significantly to the country’s economy —even though Bolsanaro has infamously stated he does not want gays to come there. Yes, he is that blatantly vile.
As for LGBTQ violence, yes, more attacks are happening against gays in Brazil, but according to Lirous Ávila, president of the Association in Defence of Human Rights, hate crimes in the country seem to be of a broader scope. He points out, discussing the recent gang-rape case, “This is a frightening crime, but it’s very common in Brazil, and violence – not only against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people but also women, black people and immigrants – is worsening.
Regarding the recent attack in Florianópolis, Ávila supports the victim’s family and is optimistic over the nationwide reaction to the incident which occurred during the city’s Pride Month. There were mixed reactions though — “… with some people shocked by the case while others justified it, saying the man was gay. “It’s absurd to justify violence that is brutal and barbaric,” she declared.
Verdi Furlanetto, chief of Florianópolis police, confirmed to the Guardian that his force is investigating, but as yet, there have been no arrests.
Read more on this story at The Guardian