The launch of the report “What is the color of the Invisible?” calls on the Brazilian State to produce data and recognize the racial agenda of the LGBTI population

“Race and Equality wants to give a space to voices that denounce the human rights violations of the Black LGBTI population to the Brazilian State.” With these words, Carlos Quesada, Executive Director of the International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality), began the event to launch the report What is the […]

Launch Report AfroLGBTI

“Race and Equality wants to give a space to voices that denounce the human rights violations of the Black LGBTI population to the Brazilian State.” With these words, Carlos Quesada, Executive Director of the International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality), began the event to launch the report What is the color of the Invisible? The human rights situation of the Afro-LGBTI population in Brazil.  The event allowed Race and Equality to reaffirm its commitment to the Afro-LGBTI population in Brazil. Written by Isaac Porto, LGBTI Program Officer in Brazil for Race and Equality, and coordinated by Zuleika Rivera, LGBTI Program Officer at Race and Equality in Washington D.C., the report calls on the Brazilian State to provide public data on the situation of this specific community in Brazil and to recognize the racial agenda from an intersectional perspective.

 Panel 1: Violence and Access to Justice for the Afro-LGBTI Population

Recalling the importance of Black Awareness Month in Brazil, Carlos Quesada moderated the debate by highlighting the report’s role in making the Afro-LGBTI experience visible, which is often absent from the State’s political agenda. Opening the panel, the author Isaac Porto, shared how the report’s writing trajectory connected with his life story and, like his, many other stories that have also been marked by racism and LGBTIphobia, forms of oppression that simultaneously make these experiences invisible.

Porto indicated that the objective of the report is “to encourage the racialization of discussions about LGBTI lives in the country and, thus, to verify the specific impacts of racism on the lives of this group of people.”

“It should be mentioned that, as of now, the report is not a finalized document because there is no pretense to present arguments and conclusions that form some sort of verdict that declares what the human rights situation experienced by this population is and end any discussions that identify alternative paths to follow. On the contrary: we do not believe that, in the fight for human rights, it is possible to reach a final conclusion. To fight for rights is to always be at a starting point. It is to never to stop moving forward.”

Bruna Benevides, Secretary of Political Articulation of the National Association of Travestis and Transsexuals (ANTRA), emphasized that the merit of the document is that confronts the LGBTI movement and brings to it an intersectional discussion around race and LGBTI people. “That is why the dossier is symbolic and representative, because it demonstrates the importance and urgency of organizing ourselves collectively,” she said, highlighting the importance of building a collective political agenda.

Trans activist Gilmara Cunha denounced the invisibility of this population, especially when it comes to the Afro-LGBTI population living in Brazilian slums. “The report gives visibility to what is invisible in our country and to our leaders, in addition to denying our existence at the national level, it is also denied at a territorial level. We are pleading for existence that is denied to us all the time,” she explains. Washington Dias, Coordinator of the Afro-LGBT Network, states that the violence to which the Black Brazilian LGBTI population is subjected to is linked to historical characteristics of structural racism, and the absence of data is a result of this racism.

Livia Casseres, Coordinator of Racial Equity for Rio de Janeiro’s Public Defender’s Office, stressed the large gap in data production within the country and acknowledged the delay in the normative plan that accounts for the absence of rights that modulate racism. “The report shows how we are advancing in ways of producing citizenship in Brazil alongside LGBTI organizations, which is a form of confronting the coloniality of the legal system,” she claimed, celebrating the launch of the dossier.

Closing the first panel, artist and poet MC Carol Dall Farra presented an artistic intervention, bringing light and visibility to the multiple experiences of Blackness in Brazil.

Panel 2: Social Rights of the Black Population

Zuleika Rivera, the panel’s moderator, highlighted the importance of discussing the discrimination that Afro-LGBTI people face in access to health, education and work, specifically mentioning the difficulties of transgender people. As an example, she cited the Escola Sem Partido [1] project, which proposes to prevent discussions on racism, misogyny and LGBTIphobia in the field of education, advancing a conservative government agenda. Therefore, in her opinion, the report is an important milestone in the fight for LGBTI rights.

Presenting the second part of the document, Isaac Porto draws attention to the myth of racial democracy in Brazil, which has been denounced by the Afro-Brazilian movement for decades. The myth of racial democracy has marked the ideology of whitening, according to which white values ​​are unique and universal, forging the construction of society as a whole. With this, Porto reiterated the urgency to racialize reflections on the human rights of the LGBTI population, emphasizing that the differences between Black and white LGBTI experiences become more astonishing when comparing those of cis and trans people.

“It is clear that Black LGBTI people are the most affected in terms of murders in Brazil, and are the preferred targets of police violence, also facing more difficulties in access to justice, healthcare, education and work. Thus, it is essential to strengthen Brazilian organizations and activists work so that they have the necessary conditions to make the human rights situation of the LGBTI population in Brazil more visible, as well as the ways in which they have resisted the most diverse and perverse violations,” he commented.

Leonardo Peçanha, a Black trans man and activist at the Brazilian Institute of Transmasculinities (Ibrat) and the National Forum of Black Travestis and Transsexuals (FONATRANS), emphasized the issues in access to healthcare for Afro-LGBTI people. He stressed that there are many trans men who are getting pregnant and face gynecological treatments that are reinforced by misogynistic beliefs. Among these beliefs affecting Black trans men, is the myth that Black people have a higher pain tolerance, which is only one of the many consequences of racism.

Janaína Oliveira, Administrative Coordinator of the Afro-LGBT Network, believes that being Black in Brazil means that even the death of the Black population needs to be debated constantly because in Brazil Black people first have to fight for their lives, and then fight for their rights. “Launching this report is not only creating international visibility, but also making the Brazilian population aware of our invisibility. It is a document that brings our lack of access and treatment by the State to our bodies. The report allows us to think about public policies that generate equal conditions of access for the Black Brazilian LGBTI population” she commented.

Alessandra Ramos, President of Instituto Transformar Shelida Ayana, denounced that access to healthcare is not guaranteed on an equal basis to trans people, who are often received with laughter and presented with more barriers when searching for healthcare options. These situations prove that it is necessary to recognize the specific rights of the trans population. “It is important that to know that trans people are the most affected when we talk about the intersectionality of gender and race. These people do not have full enjoyment of their rights, and because of this, the report is a milestone,” she explained.

Concluding the discussion, the UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (IE SOGI), Victor Madrigal-Borloz, celebrated the completion of the report and its role in strengthening the construction of public policies on access to healthcare, work and justice. Madrigal-Borloz believes that “the report presents the different identities within the LGBTI movement and the need to recognize these agendas is through the racialization of discussion. The report connects social identities and the importance of occupying political spaces.” With this, the IE SOGI affirmed his mandate’s commitment to continuing its work from a racial perspective.

In light of the research and debate generated between several LGBTI civil society organizations that participated in the construction of the report, Race and Equality concludes the document presenting recommendations to the Brazilian State, international human rights organizations, civil society and other government agencies, of which we highlight:

1 – The ratification of the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance, as well as the Inter-American Convention Against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance.

2 – The establishment of a plan to combat LGBTIphobic violence in Brazil, through intersectoral action that establishes unified guidelines to combat LGBTIphobia and racism.

3 – That the Public Ministry of Labor carry out specific campaigns against discrimination against the Afro-LGBTI population in order to guarantee fair criteria for selection, promotion, wages and working conditions.

4 – That the necessary support be given to civil society organizations that are engaged in the production of data concerning the murder of LGBTI people, with the guarantee that they will not find unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles for their proper functioning, and that their work will be respected by government officials.

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[1] The Movement Escola Sem Partido was created in 2004 by lawyer Miguel Nagib. Generally speaking, the movement demands a supposed “neutrality” for teachers, limiting them from giving their opinions in the classroom and restricting encouragement of political participation.  In May of 2014, Flávio Bolsonaro, the son of Jair Bolsonaro, then a state representative for Rio de Janeiro, asked Nagib to write a bill entitled Escola Sem Partido. Right after that, his brother Carlos Bolsonaro, a councilman for the city of Rio de Janeiro, presented a bill of the same type in the state capital. From there, these bills spread across the country. From 2014 to August of 2019, 121 bills of this type had already been presented in state and municipal legislative chambers in Brazil.  Source: O Globo. Anúncio de suspensão garantiu patrocinador secreto ao movimento Escola Sem Partido. November 8, 2019. Available at:

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