Let’s fly over Brazil. Below us is the biggest rainforest in the world, and look, there is the Amazon, the largest river by volume. Look down, the trees are home to almost a third of the world’s 300 monkey species and the country is said to have the world’s largest collection of flora and fauna. Brazil is the largest country in Latin America, named after the Brazil wood. It is home to almost 200 million people with 225 groups of indigenous people, of whom 170 groups live around the Amazon river. Portuguese is the official language, and the statue of Christ of the Andes is the symbol of the country .Its motto is “order and progress.” Voting is compulsory. Brazil has the 8th largest economy in the world San Paola and Rio are cities noted for the highest crime rates and evidence of squalid living conditions. Yet, this country boasts that it is the ninth country with the most billionaires. Soccer is ‘king’, Brazil having won the World Cup five times. Tourists flock to the warm beaches. It has the world’s longest beach (240km) Praia do Cassino located in southern Brazil, near the border with Uruguay.
Brazil has same-sex marriage. According to the Guinness World Records the Sao Paulo Gay Pride Parade is the largest in the world with 4 million people (2009) And in this year, 60,002 same-sex couples were recorded by the Brazilian census. There are also 300 active LGBT active centres across the country. Homosexuals in paradise, right? Wrong!!!
Brazil has been rated as one of the countries where the most gay people are killed. According to the report “Epidemic of Hate”, published in 1996 by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, at least 1,200 gays, lesbians and transsexuals were killed in Brazil alone in a decade.
Examples of Brazilian Hate Crimes:
Alexandre Ivo, a 14-year-old boy, was tortured and killed in June 2010 in Rio de Janeiro. Why? Because he was gay. Ms. Patricia Gomes and Ms.Sandra de Moraes, two female professors living in Parana, were killed in their own home in December of 2009. Why? Because they were lovers.
In 2010, The Latin-American Center on Sexuality and Human Rights hds identified that the states of Parana and Bahia have the two highest numbers of crimes against homosexuals in the country and at least 15 people were killed in each Brazilian state in 2009, simply for being members of the LGBT community.
According to Senator Fatima Cleide, from the state of Rondonia, one person dies every two days, as a victim of homophobic crimes in Brazil. The Brazilian gay rights group Grupo Gay da Bahia (GGB), which is funded by the World Bank and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), estimates that between 1980 and 2009 well over 3,100 homosexuals were killed by hate crimes in the country.
While hundreds of people die every year based on hate crimes, Brazilian Congress has struggled since 2006 to approve legislation categorizing homophobic violence as crimes. Religious and conservative interests have proven to be strong and vocal opponents against this basic human rights law. Why?
In my opinion, how we treat the most vulnerable, the most economically impoverished, the most persecuted, reflects the kind of society we are. In most countries in the world, we can do better.