On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, We Make an Urgent Call to Combat Religious Discrimination and Racism in the Americas

On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, We Make an Urgent Call to Combat Religious Discrimination and Racism in the Americas

Washington DC, March 21, 2024.– As we commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21, the Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) urgently calls on States to adopt measures to combat growing manifestations of religious discrimination and racism in the Americas, which significantly affect racialized population groups, such as Afro-descendants and Indigenous peoples.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, these groups face persistent challenges in expressing their sacred, ancestral, and cultural traditions without facing restrictions, stigma, repudiation, or violence. These reprisals include the persecution of members, as well as violence against places of worship and religious symbols associated with these traditions. Religious discrimination and racism can also manifest itself through stereotypes and prejudices that denigrate the beliefs and practices of these people, thus perpetuating their exclusion and marginalization.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) states that, in the case of the Afro-descendant population, their cultural identity encompasses the preservation of ancestral knowledge and the conservation of their historical legacy, so that traditions and beliefs such as the religions Lumbalú, Candomblé, Abakuá, Umbanda, Hoodoo, among others, which have their roots in Africa, are an intangible part of the heritage of the African diaspora and are part of the social process of resistance developed by enslaved people in the Americas.

In the case of Indigenous peoples, in terms of the right to freedom of religion or belief, the United Nations refers to a more diverse and complex spectrum of cultures and beliefs, since in line with their right to self-determination, Indigenous peoples are free to define and determine their own spiritual identity, according to the report “Indigenous Peoples and the Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief”, presented in October 2022 by the then-Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed.

“Many conceptualize spirituality as a ‘way of life’: the shaping of distinctive emotions, habits, practices or virtues, the modeling of distinct beliefs and ways of thinking, and a particular way of living and communicating. Spirituality is therefore related to the transcendent and is intrinsic to the everyday experiences and practices of Indigenous peoples. Beyond its uniqueness, Indigenous spirituality and culture are often based on community, identity, and relationships with traditional lands,” the report details.

A Growing Problem Rooted in Racial Discrimination

The fact that Afro-descendant and Indigenous populations are the most affected by religious discrimination and racism is intrinsically related to the racial discrimination and systemic racism that persists in the Americas. 

In the recent webinar “The Legacy of African Religious Practices and the Social Biases and Prejudices They Face”—organized by the Secretariat for Access to Rights and Equity of the Organization of American States (OAS) in the framework of the VII Week of People of African Descent in the Americas—representatives of civil society associated the rejection, persecution, and even criminalization of these practices to historical processes loaded with ignorance, stigmatization, and prejudice as they are not considered “civilized”.

The IACHR reports repeated denunciations of persecution and attacks against the life and integrity of leaders and practitioners of religions of African origin in different states of the region, as well as complaints of the destruction of temples and sacred spaces of Afro-descendant communities. In Brazil, Race and Equality is aware of cases of religious intolerance against religions of African origin that have triggered legal conflicts, with the disturbing result that practitioners have lost custody of their children.

In Bahia, the Secretary of State for the Promotion of Racial Equality registered 19 cases of religious racism between January and July 21, 2021, representing 65% of the total cases reported in 2020. Similarly, in Rio de Janeiro, the Commission to Combat Religious Intolerance (CCIR) received reports of 19 cases against religions of African origin, including two involving children, as of May of the same year.

On the other hand, in Mexico, a report by the organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reveals that Indigenous women in this country suffer more religious discrimination than their male relatives. Women who refuse to join the majority Roman Catholic faith face harassment and exclusion from the justice system, government benefit programs and services, and prenatal health care.

The report notes that although the Mexican Constitution guarantees freedom of religion or belief and other human rights to all its citizens, in practice, violations are common in certain regions: in particular, for Indigenous communities governed by the Law of Uses and Customs.

Standards in the Framework of International Law

Within the Inter-American System, the right to freedom of religion and belief is enshrined in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (Article III) and the American Convention on Human Rights (Article 12). Within the Universal Human Rights System, it is stipulated in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and has been further developed in the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, in 1981.

One of the most noteworthy Inter-American instruments on the subject is the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI), which states that States must prevent, prohibit, and punish any restriction or limitation on the use of people’s language, traditions, customs, and culture in public or private activities.

The “Study on Freedom of Religion and Belief: Inter-American Standards,” by the IACHR, unveils a broad framework for the protection of this right, where it also highlights instruments and jurisprudence applicable to Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples. It also points out the vulnerability of some groups, such as LGBTI persons, children and adolescents, human rights defenders, and persons deprived of liberty, and therefore provides an additional set of aspects of the right to freedom of religion and belief in relation to them.

A Call to Action

Race and Equality has integrated the fight against religious discrimination and racism into its lines of work. Since 2021, in Brazil, we have been developing a project aimed at promoting religious tolerance and the reduction of violence and discrimination against practitioners of Afro-descendant religions, through the strengthening of Afro-Brazilian organizations so that they can document cases of violence based on religious beliefs, prepare them for strategic international litigation, and foster a culture of respect for religious freedom, in addition to training entities so that they can provide legal support to victims of this scourge. Meanwhile, in Cuba, we are supporting the preparation of the report “Obstacles Faced by Leaders and Members of Afro-Cuban Religions in Cuba.”

Based on human rights principles, and considering that discrimination and religious racism are growing problems in the region, Race and Equality calls on the States of the Americas to adopt measures to address and contain it, one of the most vital being the ratification and implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance. In terms of monitoring, it is important to have statistics and qualitative information on the religious and cultural practices of people of African descent and Indigenous peoples. It is also important to promote information free of prejudices and stigmas regarding these practices and, of course, to sanction any action that hinders them and implies a violation of the human rights of their followers.

Race and Equality and Colombian Congress Members Join Efforts to Promote the Ratification of the Inter-American Convention Against Racism

Colombia, november 16, 2023. The Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights (Race and Equality) organized a breakfast meeting to discuss the Inter-American Convention Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI) with representatives from the Afro-Colombian Legal Commission and the Office of the Vice President of the Republic. During the activity, the Afro-Colombian Legal Commission committed to making all necessary efforts to promote the ratification of the Convention in the country. Race and Equality, in turn, pledged to provide technical assistance to promote the ratification of the international instrument by the Colombian state. 

The discussion addressed the current political context in Colombia, with a special emphasis on the significant representation of Afro-descendant individuals in the Congress of the Republic. Additionally, it highlighted the historic milestone of having the first Afro-descendant vice president in the country, underscoring the need to reach consensus on the adoption of normative instruments to eradicate racial discrimination and all forms of intolerance. 

 Moreover, a comprehensive analysis was conducted regarding the presence of racism in all sectors of society, including the Congress of the Republic and racialized communities. The need to undertake efforts leading to the eradication of systemic and structural racism was emphasized.
 

Among the identified points to promote the ratification and implementation of the CIRDI, the need for the Afro-Colombian Legal Commission to join forces to jointly drive this initiative was highlighted. It is important to invite all relevant stakeholders, such as the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to participate in the discussion. 

The event featured the participation of Cristóbal Caicedo Ángulo, President of the Afro-Colombian Legal Commission, James Hermenegildo Mosquera Torres, Representative to the Chamber from Chocó-Antioquia, Dorina Hernández Palomino, Representative to the Chamber for the department of Bolívar, Gerson Lisimaco Montaño Arizala, Representative to the Chamber for the department of Nariño, etc.
 

The ratification of the CIRDI is a fundamental step to strengthen the commitment of the Colombian Government to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as the fight against structural racism and racial discrimination. 

 

 

LGBTI+ Rights in Brazil: Impressions After the Visit of Roberta Clarke, IACHR Rapporteur

Brazil, October 9th, 2023 – In a promotional visit to Brazil facilitated by the Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality), Roberta Clarke, Rapporteur on the Rights of LGBTI People of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), had the opportunity to dialogue with civil society organizations and LGBTI+ activists from Brasília, Fortaleza, and Rio de Janeiro. During the visit, which took place from September 18th to 22nd, the IACHR Rapporteur was able to closely monitor the reality of the Brazilian LGBTI+ population, which, between advances and setbacks, remains united as a social movement and in the struggle for the preservation of the rights achieved thus far.

The trajectory of Roberta Clarke’s visit beyond the Rio-São Paulo axis was a strategy adopted by Race and Equality after several hearings with civil society, which constantly demanded attention to the different realities of the LGBTI+ population in other parts of the country. Thus, together with the support of the Ministry of Human Rights, through the National Secretary for the Rights of LGBTQIA+ People, Symmy Larrat, the city of Brasília was crucial for meetings with ministerial offices and meetings with the LGBTI+ movement in the Federal District. It is worth mentioning that the state of Ceará, with one of the highest rates of murders of LGBTI+ people, especially trans people, according to the dossier released by the National Association of Travestis and Transgenders (ANTRA), was also part of the script for active listening with activists from the northeast region, and for having the ‘Sister Imelda Lima Pontes Prison Unit’,  aimed exclusively at the LGBTI+ prison population.

Acknowledging that it is still too early to draw opinions and conclusions on the LGBTI+ Rapporteur’s visit to the country, Race and Equality brings to its audience an overview of the impressions shared by Roberta Clarke after talking to more than 15 organizations of the LGBTI+ movement in the visited cities. The Rapporteur’s impressions about the LGBTI+ population in the country were also reported during the public event held in Rio de Janeiro; “Building Bridges: LGBTI+ People’s Rights in an Intersectional Perspective”, hosted by Race and Equality.

During the week in which the Commissioner was in Brazil, two issues concerning LGBTI+ rights – which have already been achieved – were under discussion at the national level. One of them refers to equal civil marriage, which, due to the advance of extreme right-wing politicians in the Brazilian Congress, has once again been questioned as to its validity. Since 2011 and 2013, the Supreme Court (STF) and the National Council of Justice (CNJ) have equalized same-sex civil unions with heterosexual civil unions; however, Bill No. 5,167/2009 aims to annul this right. Although it has been postponed twice due to pressure from LGBTI+ deputies, and the vote remains suspended, it may return to the agenda in Congress. The other agenda that was under discussion refers to a manipulation also orchestrated by the growing anti-trans ideology that created a movement to attack the use of unisex bathrooms. The fomentation of intolerance on the part of conservative political actors has created a false idea that this was an urgent agenda item to be voted on.

These facts, for the Commissioner, reflected another Brazilian reality, since among the countries in the region, Brazil stands out among those that have made the most progress on LGBTI+ rights. In this regard, Roberta Clarke expressed concern about what is happening in the country and, particularly, about the issue of gender-based political violence, a topic that has been repeatedly denounced before the IACHR. For her, the spread of hate speech and the growth of the anti-trans movement has led to the need for reflection and the need to work together between social movements and LGBTI+ leaders. That is, to organize strategically to understand when it is worth expending efforts to the attacks of conservatives who aim only to spread fake news to dismantle civil society and interrupt the progress of the LGBTI+ political agenda.

In the face of these setbacks, the Commissioner demonstrated her solidarity and highlighted that the opportunity of having experienced different perspectives from across the country made her understand, in an intersectional way, the various types of violence that differentially affect the LGBTI+ community. While acknowledging the progress achieved through the historic struggle for visibility and rights, listening carefully to activists revealed that there is still much to be done. The country’s current situation has shown that there is strong pressure from the far right to destroy the progress made through gender equality policies and the recognition of LGBTI+ rights, and how through the spread of hate speech, trans people feel increasingly threatened and forced to live without access to basic rights.

Thus, Roberta affirmed the IACHR’s commitment to pay close attention to what happens in the country in the coming months, given that Brazil is a country of continental dimension and what happens in its territory has political influence on the entire region.

In her dialogue with the LGBTI+ social movement, the Rapporteur expressed concern about the difficulties reported in the documentation required for the process of civil rectification of name and gender; the various forms of violence against lesbian women; and the gap in the provision of public policies that meet their specificities, from the lack of data collection to the absence of health policies. In addition, lesbian women strongly emphasized the social exclusion they experience when they show affection in public, corrective rape practices, and conversion therapies, in addition to being expelled from their homes when they openly embrace their sexual orientation.

From the conversation with transmasculine people, the Commissioner was able to perceive how the violence they face is crossed mainly by issues of race, class, and territory, especially with regard to police violence. In Ceará, the theme of education was a major motto among LGBTI+ activists, highlighting the need for school inclusion policies since many LGBTI+ students abandon their educational institutions, either due to LGBTIphobia, bullying, disrespect for gender identity, among other forms of discrimination, and some do not even complete elementary school. In this context, on September 19th, the National Council for the Rights of the LGBTQIA+ Population published a resolution establishing guidelines to ensure inclusion and respect for gender identity in educational institutions.

In Brasilia, in addition to meetings with ministerial offices, Roberta Clarke met with the board of directors of the National LGBTQIA+ Council and had the opportunity to learn about the current demands of the LGBTI+ political agenda, in view of the democratic resumption in the country. The meeting with activists from the region took place in the Drag District with a round table that discussed topics such as the need for social assistance policies for the LGBTI+ population, such as the promotion of shelters and access to healthcare for the trans population.

During her visit to Rio de Janeiro, the Commissioner received a report from the Brazilian Lesbian Articulation (ABL) about lesbian women in the country; and received the ‘Dossier on Lesbocide’, after talking to one of the authors. In addition, she was given the dossiers on murder and violence against Brazilian travestis and transgender people in 2022; and the ‘Trans Brasil’ dossier, on their situation in the prison system, both documents being produced by ANTRA.

Finally, Race and Equality is deeply grateful to the Brazilian LGBTI+ movement that mobilized activists from different regions of the country so that they could convey to the IACHR Rapporteur their life experiences and their trajectories of struggles for rights in a country where being and existing as an LGBTI+ person is an act of courage. We also thank the IACHR for accepting our invitation and engaging in dialogue with the Brazilian LGBTI+ civil society movement. In view of our mission, encouraging visits by rapporteurs and experts from international mechanisms is another step in ensuring visibility, non-discrimination, and the full realization of human rights. Therefore, we ask the IACHR to consider the following recommendations for the Brazilian State:

1 – Creation of a National Council to confront hate speech and the dissemination of fake news with an intersectional perspective, in view of the violence and attacks suffered by the LGBTI+ population in the country.

2 – Establishment of policies and bills that constitutionally guarantee same-sex equal marriage, in addition to guaranteeing the safety of trans people in public bathrooms according to their gender identities and the plurality of unisex bathrooms.

3 – Collection of disaggregated data regarding the LGBTI+ population, either through the National Census or through surveys that foster the creation of specific public policies for this population.

4 – Training and education policies aimed at public security forces so that they can ensure the safety of Brazilian LGBTI+ people.

5 – Construction of a policy to confront gender-based political violence, with the provision of measures to protect LGBTI+ members of Congress.

 

Tragedy Announced: Anti-Democratic Movements Must Be Investigated by the Brazilian State

Brazil, 10th January, 2023 – The action of Bolsonaro protesters that culminated in the dispossession of the Brazilian public and historical patrimony in the federal capital, in a vile attempt of an anti-democratic coup, is marked as a tragedy. The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) calls on the Brazilian state to prioritize, in its public security plan, the investigation and containment of anti-democratic acts on the rise in the country. As such, we urge accountability and justice of all those involved in acts of vandalism at the headquarters of the three branches of power, as well as the identification of the financiers of this criminal articulation.

Since the establishment of the Democratic State of Law, for the first time, this insurgent act threatens Brazilian democracy at the national and international level. The events of January 8, 2023 are worrying not only because they undermine the popular sovereign will established in the 2022 electoral process, but also for seeking to legitimize hate crimes and escalating violence under the cover of freedom of expression. Thus, we align ourselves with the international repudiation and call for haste and rigid investigations with the observation of due process.

The omission of the military police and the convenience of the army resonate as a warning to those currently in the administrative office that the worst can happen. Therefore, Brazil needs to prioritize, at the national level, the agenda of democratic security to face such situations of sharp polarization especially with the victory of President Lula. The nearly 150 buses that arrived in Brasilia with Bolsonaro protesters were known to the state and the security forces. Thus, the deliberate omission of the invasion of public buildings besides representing an affront to Brazilian democracy, reveals the country’s impunity dressed as a political tonic of forgetfulness and privilege. The caricature of the ‘Capitol Bolsonarista’ is elitist, racist, sexist, and LGBTIphobic.

Thus, Race and Equality as a human rights organization, repudiates the attacks against the three branches of power, and hopes that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva can reestablish the defense of peace and democracy. It is also essential to foster a policy of confrontation and monitoring of anti-democratic movements that, motivated by the Bolsonaro agenda, will not cease during the next four years of office. Therefore, it is urgent that any possibility of amnesty is out of the question for the Republic of Brazil to move towards equity and social justice.

Permanent Forum on People of African Descent of the UN: Race and Equality and Brazilian CSOs Reaffirm their Commitment to Combat Systemic Racism

Brazil, December 23th, 2022 – Between December 5th and 8th, the first session of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent took place in Geneva, Switzerland. Created through Resolution 75/314 of the United Nations General Assembly in 2021, the purpose of this consultative mechanism is to contribute to the fight against racism and to promote the rights of the black population, collaborating with the Human Rights Council and other UN mechanisms. The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) was present at the Forum with Brazilian partner organizations including NGO Criola, Ilê Axé Omiojuaro, Geledés – Institute of Black Women, and the National Association of Travestis and Transsexuals (ANTRA).

The creation of this Forum emerged through the activities implemented by the International Decade of Afro-descendants. The event was attended by Epsy Campbell Bar, President of the Permanent Forum, and former Vice President of Costa Rica; Francia Marquez, Vice President of Colombia; and Federico Villegas, President of the UN Human Rights Council. Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), oversaw the opening table ceremony. The Forum had more than 900 people (virtual and face-to-face), with almost 700 people present during four days of intense debates, including human rights activists, United Nations experts, and civil society of several countries whose work center around racial justice.

The convention was held through thematic panels, meetings, and featured 27 parallel events. Notable themes were identified in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and other forms of intolerance, including shared strategies of good practice among civil society. The main debates centered on the fight against systemic racism and police brutality; the inclusion of Afro-descendants in the sustainable development agenda – climate justice; the right to redress; the drafting of the United Nations Declaration on the Right of Afro-descendant Peoples; the need for equity for all, and the need for intersectionality to understand the various forms of racial discrimination, with emphasis on the right of women, young people, the LGBTI+ community, and migrants.

On the last day, the meeting ended with conversations concerning the future of the Permanent Forum. All panels included the participation of civil society leaders with statements on the proposed themes. It should be noted that the Durban Declaration and its Plan of Action were mentioned continuously by all who were present. In addition, approximately 300 people were able to present their contributions to collaborate with the construction of the Forum. The event also featured a cultural activity through the presentation of the group, “Escuelita del Ritmo,” from Panama, and the group Ubufakazi Besoweto from South Africa.

Several Brazilian civil society organizations participated in the debates, including Race and Equality’s CSO partners in Brazil. These partners had the opportunity to condemn racism among cis and trans women, denounce maternal mortality, criticize systemic racism in the justice system, articulate the importance of combating religious racism, and expressed the need of the Forum’s commitment to support trans black women. From Race and Equality, the Executive Director, Carlos Quesada, and Race and Gender Officer in Brazil, Leilane Reis, were present. In her statement, Leilane Reis highlighted the importance of the interaction of the future United Nations Declaration with the Inter-American Convention against Racism, emphasizing that the present States that have committed themselves to ratify and implement the document must fulfill this promise in pursuit of the effective fight against racism.

To close the four intense days of dialogue and work, following the listening process, Rapporteur Michael Eachrane made a few preliminary remarks to the Forum’s Work Plan for the next three years, and expressed the need to extend the Decade of Afro-descendants to 2034. The next meeting will take place in May 2023 in New York. Race and Equality celebrates the implementation of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, and intends to contribute to all opportunities of collective construction by encouraging the participation of civil society and Afro-descendant activists in the fight for human rights.

Editorial – Brazil: Blackening the political agenda with gender perspectives in the 2022 elections

Brazil, October 06th, 2022 – On October 2, Brazilians were heading to the polls to define the political scene for the next four-years in Brazil. These elections have sparked several episodes of political violence. In recent weeks, it has become clear that this violence is not only directed towards candidates, but also to voters, especially when they defend agendas considered progressive and linked to human rights. The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality), as a non-partisan organization, expresses deep concern around the challenges of a guaranteed Brazilian democracy, freedom of expression, and political participation during the election period.

Recent cases reveal the extreme brutality and attempts at silencing. For instance, on September 26, in Cascavel, Ceará, a man was stabbed to death after being asked about his vote and declaring that he would vote for former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Councilman and candidate for federal deputy, Renato Freitas, even had his mandate revoked by the Chamber of Curitiba, which was reinstated after the decision of the Federal Supreme Court that recognized the presence of structural racism in the act. Both situations point out that conservative practices are strategically implemented through the promotion of hate speech and the persecution of any opponent of their government, creating greater democratic disparity.

Fear has become an anti-human rights political tool, and as it has been denounced by Brazilian social movements, political violence is exacerbated when it permeates through the black and LGBTI+ population. Black, transvestite, and transgender women are systemically impacted through political violence as a way of making their political participation unfeasible, through use of offenses, threats, public humiliation, and intimidation.

We know that poverty in Brazil involves class, race, and gender and that this part of the population is still underrepresented in the spheres of power, whether in Congress, political parties, or state and municipal governments. Considering the importance of centering the racial agenda in the electoral debate and also in the government’s public policies, through this editorial we highlight the following: in a country whose population is mostly black (56%), with an unpayable historical debt between Afro-descendants and indigenous peoples [1], the political agenda needs to be darkened: the intersectional racial debate needs to be effectively incorporated in order to build political accountability for social inequality.

Debate around blackening the political agenda also means discussing the support and strengthening of black candidates committed to the racial agenda. TSE data show that, of the 28,966 candidacies registered in the court, 14,497 are from black people. However, a few days before the elections, most political parties had not reached the minimum percentages of transfers from the electoral fund to black candidates, who had received only 36% of the fund’s resources. It should also be noted that, on one hand, in the few electoral debates of presidential candidates, the racial agenda was not addressed, moreover among most Brazilian states, the candidates with real possibilities of winning the presidential and congressional elections are white and cis-heterosexual men.

Therefore, we highlight some political reflections that we consider urgent and necessary to break with the paradigms of violence proposed by the current discriminatory, racist, sexist and LGBTIphobic structure. Furthermore, this is a call to the political class and the social movement to, without fail, demand that any construction of public policies include the intersectional racial perspective of 2022-2026.

Black women: Racialization of the Maria da Penha Law and political plan for care economy

The most recent data show that in Brazil, between 2009 and 2019, the number of homicides against black women increased by 2%, while the number of homicides against non-black women fell by 26.9% in the same period. Thus, even after the implementation of the Maria da Penha Law, rates of violence continue to disproportionately affect black women. For these reasons, the black women’s movement claims the need to racialize the legislation for the construction of public policies that contemplate their safety.

The insertion of a social justice plan aimed at black women presents a reparatory path within a culture of hatred and violence against women. The current patriarchal structure needs to recognize the precarious living conditions and food insecurity in which most black women live in. We must not forget that a woman (black domestic worker) was the first death victim of COVID-19 in Brazil.

Racialization of the public security debate and federal accountability in the face of police lethality

As long as the racial agenda is not incorporated into the culture and militarized structure of public security in Brazil, the criminalization of the black population will continue to deepen in the country. It is essential that criminal justice practices seek new ways to combat violence and reduce mass black incarceration. In Brazil, the state does not take responsibility for the fundamental rights of its population and encourages violence through massacres and the reproduction of militias.

The number of licenses to carry weapons, expanded during the Bolsonaro government, and grew 325% in three years. In this way, we focus on the creation of collective strategies that seek a new public security policy to mitigate racist police violence, and encourage the collection, systematization, and referral of violations by state agents, especially in the favelas and peripheries of the state country.

Cartography of violence against LGBTI+ bodies in Brazil

It is important to remember that the LGBTI+ political agenda is not disconnected from the racial agenda, on the contrary, the violence data reflect that black trans women are the biggest victims of cruel murder in the country. Therefore, we focus on the transversality of public policies that can contemplate the LGBTI+ population in its particularities. It is necessary that data collection be a governmental responsibility and that a collective agenda be put into practice that starts from a sociocultural and educational reorganization, in which LGBTIphobic practices are in fact held accountable and do not remain unpunished. It is necessary to remove Brazil from the regrettable record of being the country that kills the most LGBTI+ people in the world and, for that, a governmental commitment to the rights of this population is necessary.

Religious racism: Implementation of a strategic plan to contain violence against African-based religions

In a secular state, the discourse that uses religion to legitimize and promote violence, as well as express prejudice, needs to be fought against. We express strong concern especially in a scenario of advancing neo-Pentecostal fundamentalism. Religion should not reverberate a culture of hatred and intolerance against other religions. In Brazil, we know that this hatred is directed especially towards practitioners of religions of African origin, and in recent years there has been an aggravation of what many terreiros and organizations have called religious racism. Thus, we urge the defense of the rights of African-based religions and traditional peoples of the country.

Indigenous peoples: representation and defense of Amazonian territories

We emphasize that the claims for the racialization of public policies contemplate, in their entirety, the ethnic-racial demands of the Brazilian population. Therefore, the native peoples and quilombolas need the new government to meet their specificities and protect their territories. Environmental racism occurs from the devastation of the Amazon Forest and indigenous and quilombola territories. This includes the disruption of sanitary and housing conditions of peripheral communities that live on slopes and riversides. Indigenous underrepresentation, whether in parliaments or in any other decision and power space, is leading to yet another decimation of many peoples, and exploitatively benefits agribusiness and mining companies.

The indigenous call for the end of the time frame is just one of the survival strategies in which they continue to denounce the massacre of their communities by miners. The increasing destruction of the Amazon rainforest continues to be denounced by activists and human rights defenders– a fact that has led Brazil to enter the UN’s “dirty list” as a dangerous country for these leaders. Thus, we insist that this governmental intimidation imposed on civil society with the closure of civic spaces cease, and we continue to demand that the next government reactivate committees and councils that value the preservation of human rights.

Implementation of international agreements that value the fight against structural racism

Since May 2021, Brazil has ratified the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI) and, as a next step, the government must implement the Convention. With the status of constitutional amendment, the CIRDI also deals with economic and social rights, representing a legal instrument that allows a new horizon for projects of historical reparation and representation.

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Over the last few years, Race and Equality has been working in Brazil to strengthen civil society organizations in the fight against racial discrimination and gender inequalities, fostered by current exclusionary policies and the growth of hate speech. Since then, as a human rights organization, we have continued to denounce human rights violations in the country. Difficult challenges continue to arise as civil society encourages the government to incorporate the intersectional racial debate.

Race and Equality will continue to monitor the Brazilian State and bring to light, at the international level, patterns of violations that are repeated at the expense of vulnerable populations. We are all responsible. There is no possible neutrality in a society who is the agency for change. Voting, in its democratic process, is the exercise of the right to change, and at this moment, an exit door for hate speech.

 

[1] Black, quilombola and indigenous population

Afro Latines Advocacy Week: Race and Equality brings organizations from Brazil and Colombia to Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C., September 27th 2022 – From the 27th to the 30th of September, the International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) brings human rights organizations from Brazil and Colombia to Washington, D.C., working to promote and defend the rights of the Black and LGBTI+ population.  In order to promote an exchange of political advocacy strategies between the Afro-Latine and the Afro-American movements, the meetings will take place within the framework of Black Caucus Week; an annual conference of Black U.S. Congress that aims to boost and debate the civic engagement of the Black population. In addition, the delegation participates in academic meetings with U.S. civil society organizations and private meetings with congress members and state departments.

The Brazil-Colombia delegation present in Washington D.C is formed by the organizations: Geledés – Instituto da Mulher Negra (BR) that will be represented by Rodnei Jericó da Silva, Coordinator of SOS Racismo;  NGO Criola (BR) with the presence of the Project Coordinator, Lia Manso;  Somos Identidad (COL), with the Founder Johana Sinisterra and the Legal Representative Sandra Milena Ibarbo;  and the Asociación Nacional de Afrocolombianos Desplazados (AFRODES – COL), with the presence of Coordinator Luz Marina Becerra.  Representing Race and Equality, the Executive Director Carlos Quesada; Zuleika Rivera, Senior Officer of the LGBTI Program and Brazil Program Officer, Nathaly Calixto, will be present at these meetings.

In this exchange among Black Pan-American organizations, the Latin American organizations aim to take the Black and LGBTI+ perspectives of the global southern diaspora for an effective political impact, as well as exchanges of good practices so that they can move together to achieve plural racial justice. It’s important to emphasize that, for Race and Equality, these meetings are an opportunity to promote strategies of structural political changes with an intersectional bias; as Brazil is in the electoral period, Colombia’s President values racial agendas and, this year, the U.S. Congress goes through midterms elections.

“It’s precisely in this configuration that we empower organizations to act with political implications. Being able to talk to Black U.S. Congress members about the Latin American racial agenda is one way to influence the Biden administration, because it needs a congressional majority to pass its agendas.  It is in this sense that we plan to ensure and strengthen international human rights agreements on racial and gender justice and, in this case, there’s nothing better than organizations to guide the demands of their countries,” says Carlos Quesada.

Brazil and Colombia: In Search of Racial Justice

As the U.S. academic community seeks to understand and foster studies on the Black diaspora, the BRA-COL delegation will meet with academics and students at Howard University to share the efforts of regional civil society organizations in defending human rights. The idea is to show that even though racism is a global issue, the different sociocultural dynamics and the deficit economic contexts produced by centuries of colonialism, impact primarily on the most vulnerable populations in Latin America and Afro-Caribbean. In this case, to make known the racial and gender equity agenda of these organizations, can stimulate studies that provide, in  the future, the construction of equitable global public policies.

Brazil, for example, has the highest murder rate of LGBTI+ people in the world, and this incidence rate cross-referenced from an intersectional perspective is highest in trans-Black women in vulnerable situations. The organizations Geledés and Criola, together with Race and Equality in Brazil, conducted a survey monitoring the closure of civic spaces, in which they mapped that the rise of an ultraconservative agenda has generated attacks on the Brazilian democratic system, criminalization of human rights defenders and the immobilization of citizen participation councils and associations. With this, there are growing attacks and hate speech against Black women and elected LBTIs who intend to participate in the political life of the country.

In Colombia, for years the Afro-Colombian community has suffered a process of marginalization and vulnerabilization, and the civil society and Afro-Colombian leaders have denounced the existence of a geographical apartheid reinforced by structural and institutional racism.  This same structure resonates in erasing the struggle for the existence of ethnic peoples, which reinforce that civil rights in the country must be thought of in multiethnic and multicultural perspectives, taking into account how racist violence impacts these territories and racialized bodies. Similarly, for Colombian LGBTI+ people, the scene of gender and racial violence continues to increase: from January to June 2022,  354 victims of  sexual orientation assaults were recorded, 324 of whom suffered some physical abuse and  229 suffered these abuses within their own families.

The excessive use of police force in both Brazil and Colombia is a complaint presented to international human rights mechanisms.  The armed conflict in Colombia and police forces in Brazil intersect in the profile of their victims: Black people in vulnerable living conditions in territories whose presence of the state is marked by police violence. In Colombia, at least 1,144,486 people who identified themselves as part of the Black population were recorded as victims of armed conflict, according to data from the National Information Network, which corresponds to 38.38% of the total. In Brazil, the Brazilian Public Safety Yearbook points out that of the total of 6,145 deaths by police intervention, in 2021, 84.1% were Black and 15.8% were white.

Why the Black population is seen as a threat

In addition to this question and many others that permeate the racist structure that found the police corporations of Latin America, Race and Equality in partnership with organizations in Brazil and Colombia, continue in a regional project to confront and denounce racist police violence in both countries.  In the face of this meeting in Washington, D.C., police violence that intersects with the Black and LGBTI+ populations will also be the subject of meetings to placate this colonial modus operandi, in which Black bodies are exempt from the presumption of innocence and, because they exist, are victims of all violence and seen as a threat, whether in Latin American countries or Anglo America.

In view of this, racism, gender-based violence and LGBTIphobia pose the real threat to a system of oppression that disrespects inalienable human rights and international treaties that value their guarantees. For this, Race and Equality with the BRA-COL delegation intend to denounce to the American Congress members the current milestones of violation of the rights of the Black population and LGBTI+ Latin America. The exchange of these dissenting voices reaffirms the purpose of further denouncing racism and its different forms of violence that prevent the full exercise of citizenship, freedom of expression and the right to development of these countries as a call for partnership and inclusion of the Black population of all the Americas.

Brazilian delegation participates in the pre-sessions of the UN-UPR in Switzerland with recommendations on racial discrimination in Brazil

Brazil, September 15th, 2022 – With Brazil’s review approaching in the 4th Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) promoted a series of meetings, in July and August, along with civil society organizations that work on issues of race, gender and sexual orientation in Brazil, including Embassies in Brasília and their respective Permanent Missions, in Geneva, Switzerland. The Universal Periodic Review is a mechanism developed by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council to assess the human rights situation in each of the UN member countries.

The meetings in Geneva took place between August 29 and September 2, and the following organizations participated: Grupo Conexão G de Cidadania LGBT de Favelas (RJ), represented by the current Director General Gilmara Cunha, a trans woman, community leader, and activist of human rights; NGO Criola (RJ), with the presence of Mônica Sacramento, the Institution’s Project Coordinator; Marielle Franco Institute (RJ) with its Executive Director Anielle Franco; Geledés – Instituto da Mulher Negra, represented by Nilza Iraci, Coordinator of Political Incidence. On behalf of Race and Equality, the Executive Director, Carlos Quesada; David Veloso, Human Rights Consortium Coordinator; Gaia Hefti, Advocacy Officer in Geneva; and Leilane Reis, Race and Gender Officer of Brazil all took part in the meetings.

Due to the importance of demonstrating at the regional and international level the current framework of human rights violations in the country, in addition to seeking to raise awareness around the need for more targeted recommendations for the black population, LGBTI+, and indigenous peoples, this delegation has actively participated in human rights mechanisms by sending reports. The agenda in Geneva represented a continuity of the work of political incidence in Brasilia. There were five days of meetings focusing on the visibility of the current situation of racial discrimination in Brazil, leading to the Permanent Missions, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and Independent Experts’ specific recommendations on the subject.

Geneva Agenda

On August 30, several Brazilian organizations were selected by the UN Human Rights Council to speak on the situation in the country during the pre-session of the UPR, and propose the recommendations to the Brazilian State, who was also present at the event, with its Permanent Mission. It should be noted that the Report of the Brazilian State for the evaluation of the IV cycle of the UPR was only published on the eve of the pre-session of the UPR, leaving civil society in the dark regarding what information was published. Representing the Brazilian delegation, Anielle Franco was invited by the organizer of the pre-sessions, the NGO UPR Info, to speak on the intersections of police brutality and racism in Brazil. The activist brought to light the recent massacres in Rio de Janeiro and the murder of the young black, pregnant woman, Kathlen Romeo.

“These are cases that indicate that the death of the black population in Brazil is a systemic issue, promoted by the Brazilian authorities and covered up by the police forces. Instead of investigating the massacres and discriminatory violence against the Afro-Brazilian population, the Brazilian government and police try to legitimize these police operations and attack Brazilian human rights organizations, such as the Marielle Franco Institute.”

On August 31, the International Day of People of African Descent, Race and Equality held a hybrid event entitled, “Racial Discrimination in Brazil: Violence against the Black Population and Indigenous Peoples.” The event was attended by the delegation present in Geneva and aimed to make the recommendations made by these organizations for the 4th cycle of the UPR visible to the general public, expanding beyond closed meetings with Embassies and Permanent Missions. In addition, the event was also an important tool of international political advocacy for the construction of networks and partnerships between Brazilian and international organizations.

The Brazilian delegation had the opportunity to take the recommendations to the Ambassador of Chile in Geneva, Claudia Fuentes Julio. They also met with the Embassies of Canada, Australia and Argentina, the Permanent Mission of Costa Rica, France, Germany and Colombia, and with Gay McDougall, Rapporteur of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which is responsible for monitoring the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Faced with the current picture of violations presented, a review that will take place in November this year, charging the Brazilian State for covering up the racial issues in the country.

It is important to highlight that the delegation provided ample space for listening and dialogue in meetings with experts from UN treaty bodies, experts on afro-descendant peoples, and experts from the mechanism on police violence created by the UN in 2021. In addition, the Brazilian delegation was received by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) who is charging the Brazilian State for neglecting the well-being of the black, indigenous, and LGBTI+ populations.

International Incidence: The Paths to Geneva

The task of illuminating the ongoing human rights violations in the country for international mechanisms and their support is a major commitment for Race and Equality with civil society organizations in Brazil. For this, technical training work and support to these institutions are necessary so that their complaints and demands arrive instrumentalized to the Experts and Rapporteurs of each international body; this work is called advocacy and/ or political incidence. During the Race and Equality event in Geneva, the Executive Director, Carlos Quesada, stressed the importance of the daily construction of advocacy strategies in Brazil, “to train grassroots organizations to promote political actors through a technical training methodology so that these organizations can generate sustainable structural changes.”

Thus, in order for the Brazilian delegation to be received with its recommendations in Geneva, it was necessary to hold a meeting in Brasilia, with the Embassies of the countries that will review Brazil in the 4th cycle of the UPR, and the other Embassies present at the UPR Human Rights Council. The meetings in Brasilia took place from July 27 to July 29, and were attended by: Gilmara Cunha, General Director of the Grupo Conexão G de Cidadania LGBT de Favelas (RJ); Marina Fonseca, Anthropologist and Political Advisor at the NGO Criola (RJ); Fabiana Pinto, Sanitarian and Coordinator of Incidence and Research at the Marielle Franco Institute (RJ); and Rodnei Jericó, lawyer and Coordinator of SOS Racism of Geledés (SP). Representing Race and Equality were present: Leilane Reis, Officer of the Race and Gender Program and, Adriana Avelar, Incidence Officer in Brazil.

The meetings in Brasilia were with the Permanent Missions that evaluated Brazil in previous periods in themes of interest to the group that are connected with the current and fragile Brazilian democratic system: European Union, United States, Norway, Canada, Germany, France, Switzerland, Australia, Argentina, UK, Colombia and Chile.

The organizations sought to make visible the current regulatory frameworks that have exacerbated the vulnerability of black, indigenous and LGBTI+ populations in Brazil since the last review of the UPR, taking into account the precariousness of life due to the effects of the pandemic. Based on the recommendations made by the Embassies visited, the following themes were discussed: violence against the LGBTI+ population, police violence against the black population, black women’s health, closure of civic spaces, and indigenous peoples’ rights. The intention was to establish a dialogue with recommendations for the next cycle, to point out the social markers in force in Brazilian society and to be able to highlight the real situation of human rights violation in Brazil.

The work of political incidence is actively built-in partnership with Brazilian organizations, it’s necessary to be connected with the political and legislative proposals of the Brazilian Government so that effective action can be taken to ensure the construction and implementation of international treaties and agreements. The purpose of the route from Brasilia to the pre-sessions of the UPR in Geneva is to welcome the recommendations of the Brazilian delegation during the review of Brazil at the UPR session, which will take place on November 14, at 2:30 pm (Geneva time), and at 9:30 am (Brasília time).

What are the next steps?

The UPR is a UN mechanism in which State Parties evaluate State Parties. Therefore, UPR, along with civil society can impactfully highlight the human rights violations in Brazil and influence the evaluating states to accept its recommendations in the assessment process. As mentioned earlier, Brazil also delivered its report, in which it said it had consulted civil society on the human rights situation in the country. With this, an analysis based on advances, setbacks, and good practices is performed from all information received and, finally, the evaluated State must apply the recommendations of its peers.

If the recommendations of the Brazilian delegation are accepted and promoted by the State Parties during the UPR, the next task is to present them to the new Government that will take office in 2023, so that it becomes aware of the work of political incidence of civil society organizations. From there, the recommendations should be ratified and implemented in Brazil’s four-year public policies. Thus, civil society carries the responsibility to monitor compliance with the agenda in combating racial discrimination granted in the UN Universal Periodic Review. Race and Equality follows alongside these organizations to monitor and pressure the government in applying the international agreement.

Finally, to collaborate with the United Nations Universal Periodic Review mechanism, Brazilian organizations supported by Race and Equality propose, among others, the following recommendations addressed to the Brazilian State:

I) Ensure the occurrence of investigations into crimes committed against LGBTI persons in favela territory, enabling the collection of public data on such crimes.

II) Take urgent measures to curb and eradicate police violence at any stage of action by civil police, military, and armed forces in carrying out missions on Brazilian soil.

III) Recreate participatory councils and collegiate groups that allow participation and indigenous social control in the formulation, monitoring, implementation, and evaluation of indigenous policies of the Brazilian State in the areas of territorial management, education, health and culture, alongside the establishment of programs and measures to prevent and punish racism, discrimination, and violence against indigenous peoples, and to promote ethnic and racial equality, autonomy, and the right of peoples to be different.

IV) Conduct the implementation of the National Plan for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and institutionalizing the Protection Program for Human Rights Defenders, Communicators and Environmentalists (PPDDH) by expanding its structure in the 26 states of the country and DF, establishing budgets, regulations and specific strategies for the reception and follow-up of cases of black, trans, and transvestite women human rights defenders, representatives of traditional peoples and communities; create indicators for monitoring and judicial mechanisms for the accountability of their main violators, highlighting the use of police brutality and militarized groups employed to suppress rights and freedoms of expression, association, belief, assembly, and political participation in Brazilian civic space.

V) Ensure access to reproductive health services, including ensuring that abortions are carried out under the conditions provided for in current legislation, without bureaucratic obstacles or embarrassment to people who are pregnant and seek care, giving special attention to the situation of black pregnant and parturient women who suffer from the impact of institutional racism on maternal health.

Complexo da Penha Massacre: Human Rights organizations appeal to the IACHR to end police violence

Brazil, May 27th, 2022 – The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality), Marielle Franco Institute, Geledés – Black Women’s Institute, Observatório de Favelas, Justiça Global and Casa Fluminense denounce to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the Complexo da Penha Massacre, which took place this Tuesday, May 24, during a police mega-operation in Rio de Janeiro. The communiqué sent to the IACHR calls for the protection of community residents to be guaranteed and for the extensive monitoring of reported situations of violence. So far, there are registered: 25 dead and 07 injured in the Complexo da Penha Massacre.

  • 25 people killed were taken to the Getúlio Vargas Hospital.
  • 01 body of a woman was taken directly to the Legal Medical Institute (IML)
  • 01 person killed was taken to the Emergency Care Unit of Complexo do Alemão with 08 gunshot wounds
  • 07 injured were taken to Hospital Getúlio Vargas

This extreme violence reflects the result of the public security policy of the current Governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Claudio Castro, who, since his predecessor, Wilson Witzel, does not respect the decision of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) that determined the State must comply with the ADPF 635, known as ADPF das Favelas. Until now, the State Government has not presented any plan to reduce police lethality; it didn’t install GPS equipment, audio and video recording systems in police vehicles or on the uniforms of officers; and as a result of these current massacres, it has set no limits on lethal force. As a result, black bodies, from favelas and outskirts, experience constant scenes of terror and even their homes become a place of fear and insecurity for all families.

According to reports, agents from the Special Operations Battalion (BOPE) and from the Federal Highway Police (PRF) entered the Vila Cruzeiro Complex at 4:00 am, firing shots with helicopters and armored tanks as support. The operation took place throughout the day and, despite the active movement of civil society organizations urging the public authorities for a ceasefire, the operation continued on its terroristic course. In this regard, the signatory organizations urge the IACHR and other international human rights organizations to constantly monitor police violence in Brazil.

It is unacceptable to continue the current security policy that goes against the basic principles of human rights, such as the right of living and housing, in addition to State protection. It must be mentioned: this massacre is yet another demonstration of the structural racism present in the actions of the Brazilian police.

We regret the lives lost and sympathize with the various families of Complexo da Penha, who once more experienced the presence of the State in their territories with violence, deaths, scarcity and tears. In light of the foregoing, we share the requests to the IACHR:

  1. To publicly comment on this case, through a statement and monitor the situations of violence reported in this document;
  2. Request the Civil Police of the State of Rio de Janeiro to carry out technical investigations on the spot, with the elaboration of reports on ballistics and possible signs of torture on the bodies, ensuring the duty of publicity of the state’s action;
  3. Demand that the State (RJ) and Federal Public Ministry investigate the police operation responsible for this massacre, including the specific need to observe possible signs of alteration of the crime scenes, as well as the impediment of residents and activists to manifest about what happened;
  4. That the State (RJ) and Federal Public Ministry provide information to the families of the victims of the massacre and keep them informed about the investigations;
  5. Considering what was determined in ADPF 635 regarding the absolute exceptionality in carrying out police operations, that is, the premise that such incursions should only occur in extraordinary situations of immediate and concrete danger to life, which cannot consist of a generic allegation about the current calamitous situation of public security in the State of Rio de Janeiro and/or on the need to repress drug trafficking and criminality, allegations that underlie the human rights violations implicit to public security policy in Brazil. It is requested that the state of Rio de Janeiro be notified of non-compliance with the criteria determined in ADPF 635;
  6. Maintain direct communication with the Brazilian government inquiring about the measures adopted to combat police violence, considering the numerous cases publicized by the Brazilian press and by the aforementioned civil society organizations.

17M: The task is to eliminate structural LGBTIphobia

Washington DC, May 17, 2022.– Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and sexually diverse identities throughout world history have been persecuted for their gender identity and sexual orientation. Although there are some advances in the area of human rights, there are still some societies that pathologize and criminalize LGBTI+ people.

Until May 17, 1990, the World Health Organization (WHO) considered homosexuality a mental pathology, as recorded in the first version of its International Classification of Diseases Manual (ICD) of 1948. Likewise, since 1975 they defined transsexuality as a mental disorder. Only in 2018, with the ICD-11 version, did they remove it from the list.

Therefore, every May 17, the LGBTI+ community conmemorates the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia and the historic decision of the WHO that contributed to the depathologization and recognition of homosexuality as a natural aspect of life and sexuality. However, even in many parts of the world, sexual and gender diversity is condemned by religion, law and society, and in some instances with the death penalty.

The historical damage is irreversible and the best thing that remains to be done is to pay off that historical debt that has placed the LGBTI+ community in a context of particular vulnerability.

Bodies as territories of violence

“Our bodies, our lives, our rights” is this year’s slogan chosen by the organization May 17th to commemorate this date. “A topic that reminds us that many of us around the world experience LGBTQI-phobia firsthand every day and that our bodies are being abused, ruining our lives,” describes its website .

In Latin America and the Caribbean, at least 370 murders of LGBTI+ people were recorded in 2020, a statistic that has increased every year since 2014, as pointed out in the latest report by the network of civil society organizations Sin Violencia LGBTI. On a daily basis, many forms of violence are practiced on bodies that do not meet the expectations of the heterosexual cisnormative gender binary, with death being the most violent form of attack on the lives of people of sexual and gender diversity.

LGBTI+ Struggle

Thanks to LGBTI+ leadership and the sum of contributions from human rights organizations, today there are more visible and non-visible people joining the LGBTI+ fight against inequality, violence and structural discrimination.

However, it is everyone’s commitment to build and defend a plural society, where the various ways of expressing, thinking, acting, loving and being are respected. This is a fight of everyone, for everyone and that we must all make our own. As Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, director of Oxfam, mentions in an opinion column for Equal Times, the defense of dignity, freedom, identity and life are rights intrinsically linked to the rights of each one.

In the global campaign in favor of equality, social justice and non-discrimination for reasons of sexual orientation and gender identity, we must all be a part of it.

Actions against hate and violence

This May 17, at Race and Equality we commemorate the right to live free of violence and with dignity. Although there are regulatory changes and legal recognition in many countries, we believe that it is not enough. We are firmly convinced that the true social transformation will come when, from different sectors, we begin the real work to deconstruct the thoughts and attitudes of societies that do not allow all people in their diversities to live fully and safely.

For this reason, we urge States to combat the stigma, discrimination and state violence that make precarious the existence of LGBTI+ citizens and those in human mobility allowing for rampant police abuse, impunity in hate crimes, discrimination, violence in educational  and health spaces, torture, sexual and reproductive violence, mistreatment, unjustified procedures and a long list of actions that disguise and justify violence to continue keeping them marginalized.

All this has real, serious and adverse effects on the comprehensive security of the LGBTI+ population, on access to work, on their development, on education and on physical and mental health that can no longer be tolerated. The efforts of all States and societies are needed to eliminate the LGBTIphobic environment and guarantee the human rights of the LGBTI+ population. This will not be achieved without the political will to actively listen to, understand, and actively address the specific needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, and other diverse identities.

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