A “homocausto” rages unabated in Brazil: 250 LGBT people murdered in one year

A Brazilian LGBT organization that has been documenting homophobic murders of LGBT people in that country says they have now hit a record number: one every day and a half.

Grupo Gay da Bahia (GGB), the oldest Brazilian gay group, documented 250 cases in 2010. The figure is part of their annual report - still being completed - that will be officially unveiled in March.

In an interview with Terra Magazine, founder of the GGB and 'dean of the homosexual movement in Brazil' ('decano do movimento homossexual brasileiro'), Luiz Mott , said that in 2009 there were 198, about 50 less than reported last year.

Speaking on Brazilian TV, Mott described what's happening as a "homocausto."

In the previous decade an LGBT person was killed, on average, every three days. In recent years, that average rose to a murder every day and a half.

GGB says that between 1980 and 2009 at least 3,100 homosexuals were killed by hate crimes in the country.

This escalation reflects growing violence in Brazil, especially with regard to lethal crimes. But, in general, impunity is higher when the victim is gay, Mott said, because people do not want to get involved, to testify.

Mott emphasized that the figures compiled by the GGB, based on reports in the national press, do not reflect the real picture of violence against homosexuals in Brazil. That it is definitely much more extensive: "surely this number is much higher."

"In the National Plan for Human Rights (PNDH 2) there were 11 affirmative measures which, unfortunately, the [previous] Lula government did not implement. The first was the documentation, the implementation of systematic data collection on violence, murder of homosexuals. Official statistics of Brazilian hate crime should be undertaken by the Ministry of Justice, the Office of Human Rights and national states - not the GGB, with its limited resources, who has done this heroic work."

Even with underreporting, Brazil outperforms countries such as Mexico, which is the second place in the murders of gay men (average 35 cases per year) and the United States, third in the list (approximately 25 notices per year), according to Mott.

For Mott, the country is living with a contradiction in that it has "more than 150 gay parades, houses the largest association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) in Latin America," but at the same time, it is "the world leader in deaths from this population. Brazil has a death penalty, in practice, much more severe than those in most homophobic countries in the world."

"A homofobia cultural é forte no Brasil" - "cultural homophobia is strong in Brazil."

In November, we reported that a proposed hate crimes law to tackle killings of LGBT had provoked a massive backlash on social media, including direct incitements to violence.

The arrest of two Brazilian soldiers last year following the shooting of a 19-year-old gay man on the day of the Gay Pride celebration in Rio de Janeiro drew wide media attention in Brazil. Sao Paulo's Gay Pride attracts 3.3 million - the biggest in the world - but a group of upper middle-class teenagers went on an attacking spree, beating several men and yelling homophobic epithets after the parade. Four of them were minors, and were sent to a juvenile detention center, but they have already been released , since a judge determined that they "were not a danger to society." Though the victims' lawyers may pursue criminal charges against the aggressors, the Sao Paulo government only threatened fines (though these could potentially be quite high).

Amid the publicity surrounding the shooting in Rio, and about proposed hate crimes laws, MundoMais reported thousands of Twitterers expressing support for homophobic attacks on LGBT using the slogan "Homophobia? Yes!" (#homofobiasim, see English translation of tweets, some of which are explicitly pro-violence, pro-"corrective rape" of lesbians) or used the number of the proposed hate crimes law (yes=#PL122Sim, No=#PL122Nao).

Mott say that "there is a whole cultural and institutional homophobia that still exists and has, in evangelical churches and Catholic churches, the great manufacturing centers for such ideological weapons."

Despite the public support for LGBT rights of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva over his eight-year rule, says Luiz, "the situation of LGBT people has worsened."

"There were years marked by many declarations and affirmative action through the program "Brazil without Homophobia, LGBT National Conference, the creation of the National LGBT. However, few proposals have left the paper. The important achievements, as the name for social travesty, are the result of one or two decades of militancy of the movement. In concrete terms, the situation worsened for gays, despite the party. Never so much blood was shed as a homosexual in the Lula government. The HIV infection has also increased. A dire situation. Despite all the good will, statements and programs, proposals and affirmative action, the life expectancy of homosexuals diminishes."

Mott criticizes what he calls "lack of political will":

"For more than a dozen laws in Congress, aimed at the homosexual citizenship. To enact such laws, it is necessary political will and pressure of the executive by the legislature. The bench Gospel and the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (Catholic) are extremely homophobic and prevent the adoption of such proposals. Lula, unfortunately, lacked the courage and boldness to press his power base, so that these laws were adopted."

"In our view, there was malfeasance on the part of the Presidency for not having effected the 11 measures proposed by PNDH 2. The government, despite the best intentions, did not face the main need, which is the guarantee of life for homosexuals. There were estimates of practical measures, if implemented, certainly, we would have a more precise number of these homicides. There were proposals to tackle homophobia and lethal crimes."

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