Por: Isaac Porto – Consultor LGBTI de Race & Equality para Brasil
Brazil registered the deaths of at least two LGBTI+ people in the same week as the 1-year anniversary of the politically-inclined murder of Marielle Franco, an Afrodescendant bisexual woman and human rights activist who was raised in the Favela da Maré and worked as a councilwoman in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
The killed individuals were Fabio Silva, a 34-year old gay student whose body was burned and found alongside his motorcycle last Sunday in the city of São Félix do Xingu, and a 21-year old Trans woman named Pâmela, who was shot 3 times in the head in Santa Luzia do Pará. Both cases took place in inner cities, making it very difficult to obtain specific information on the circumstances of the crimes. According to data from Grupo Gay da Bahia (Gay Group of Bahia), Pará was the State with the 7th highest number of reported LGBTI+ deaths in 2018.
The two deaths, besides being of individuals identified as LGBTI also share in common a high degree of violence employed. The report, “Killings and Violence Against Transgender and Transsexual People in Brazil in 2018”, prepared by the Associação Nacional de Travestis e Transexuais do Brasil (ANTRA) and the Instituto Brasileiro Trans de Educação (IBTE) details how the deaths of LGBTI people are marked by high numbers of shootings, burnings, and torture practices, thus confirming the hate towards LGBTI+ people still existing in Brazil.
According to Janaina Oliveira, Coordinator of the Rede Afro LGBT (Afro LGBT Network), attacks against LGBTI+ people have been even more violent in Brazil in the past years. She believes that, in addition to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, hate speech has increasingly encouraged criminal acts to occur with more brutality. To make matters worse, a lingering sense of impunity encourages violent acts, so much that crimes such as threats, assaults, rape, dismemberment and burning people are read as naturalized processes. Janaina also notes how much President Bolsonaro’s rhetoric legitimizes violence to LGBTI:
“A President who begins his administration by saying that politically correctness will no longer exist in Brazil is stimulating and contributing to the violence. We live a time in which the country is led by conservative sectors, which in the name of “morality and good manners” forget the fundamentals; Guaranteeing every Brazilian citizen’s right to life. And when it comes to protecting lives, the LGBT population also needs to be protected”.
In a country that records the highest number of killings of Trans people in the world, the priority should not be so much as to just identify the motives of the killers, but rather to which extent are the lives of LGBTI+ people in Brazil marked by a context of extreme violence, and whether or not the Brazilian State guarantees the lives of these people, and under which conditions. The biggest challenge for LGBTI+ people is to simply stay alive.
The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) will continue to fight for equality and calls on the Brazilian State to investigate the deaths of LGBTI+ people in the country and, above all, to ensure that all people can freely express their sexual orientation and gender identity in Brazil.