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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 4:49 am 
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Anti-gay remarks at debate spark anger in Brazil
29 September 2014
By ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON

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In this Sept. 16, 2014 file photo, Levy Fidelix, presidential candidate of the Brazilian Labour Renewal Party, speaks with journalists prior to presidential debate organized by Brazil's Bishop Confederation in Aparecida, Brazil. (AP Photo/Andre Penner, File)

SAO PAULO (AP) -- A minor character in Brazil's election race faced a firestorm of criticism on Monday after saying during a presidential debate that the country needs to stand up against gay people who should receive psychological help far away from the general population.

The comments by presidential candidate Levy Fidelix, who has the support of less than 1 percent of potential voters, drew no reaction from the leading candidates during the nationally televised debate late Sunday. But online and on social media tens of thousands of people denounced Fidelix as homophobic and hateful.

"It was so absurd and so grotesque. He is a parasite on Brazilian politics," said Beto de Jesus, secretary of Latin America and the Caribbean for the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. Gay rights activists urged people to file complaints against Fidelix and asked that TV stations remove him from the final presidential debate on Thursday.

Fidelix, a former journalist who founded the center-right Brazilian Labor Renewal Party, gets equal airtime in presidential debates as President Dilma Rousseff, her main opponent Marina Silva and four other presidential hopefuls. During the debate, candidate Luciana Genro asked Fidelix why some politicians refused to accept same-sex couples as families. He responded with a vulgar statement about gay sex not leading to reproduction. "Those people who have those problems should receive psychological help. And very far away from us, because here it is not acceptable." He also said it was "ugly" seeing gay couples walk by on Sao Paulo's main avenue.

Some members of the audience laughed at the remarks, but social media exploded with criticism.

Congressman Jean Wyllys, known for defending rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, said on Monday that he is seeking legal advice as to whether the candidate can be sued for incitement to violence against gays. Wyllys called Fidelix's comments during the debate hate speech. It was "motivated by a nauseating mix of stupidity, homophobia and vulgar demagoguery," he wrote on his Facebook page.

On Twitter and Facebook, people said "Levy, you are disgusting," and tens of thousands were furious at his comments. Many call for a law to punish discrimination against the LGBT.

"More than ever, we need to criminalize homophobia. The hate speech should be silenced," wrote Genro on her Twitter account.

Advocates have been calling for a law that would ban discrimination against the LGBT community, saying it would reduce violence against its members. Silva, the candidate, has already faced complaints by gay rights activists. In August, she retracted proposals to change the constitution to allow gay marriage and to support a law that would criminalize sex-based discrimination. A day after launching her government plan in which the proposals were revealed, Silva said there was a mistake in the publication process and clarified that she believed the same-sex unions allowed in Brazil already ensure all rights to same-sex couples.

Source: AP.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2014 5:07 am 
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The Brazilian church that welcomes gay believers into the fold
by Beth McLoughlin
Wednesday, 1 October 2014

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Pastor Marcos Lord, who is also the drag queen Luandha Perón, in the Metropolitan community church in Rio. Photograph: Antonio Franco

From the outside, there is little to distinguish the Metropolitan community church from the many other evangelical houses of worship in Rio’s Zona Norte.

But as Marcos Lord prepares for an evening sermon, it soon becomes clear that this church is not like the others. It takes the pastor about an hour to prepare for the pulpit: donning false eyelashes, a wig and a pair of vertiginous heels to transform himself into the drag queen Luandha Perón. In a country where evangelical Christians have become increasingly influential – and outspoken in their homophobia – the church provides a space for gay, bisexual and transsexual believers.

This evening, Luandha is hosting a recital of lesbian poetry. “This story isn’t erotic enough for my liking,” she jokes with the congregation, before reading a touching poem that one member has written about the first time she met her partner. Watching this confident character command an audience, it is hard to imagine that Lord once believed he was possessed by demons, and felt unable to come out until he was 26.

At 19, he fell in love with a fellow member of his church who described himself as an “ex-gay”, believing that his faith had cured him. The episode caused family tensions and Lord stayed away from religion for many years until he discovered the Metropolitan community church. “At first, I resisted it. I didn’t want a church just for gays; it should be everyone,” he says. “But it seemed normal to me, there was a traditional service. No drag queens in those days!”

Now a pastor for the church, Marcos gives services and takes part in gay pride marches as Luandha. A teacher by day, Lord says the character of Luandha, who is more outspoken and forthright than he can be, waits “like a genie in a bottle” for her turn to appear.

There are 14 Metropolitan community churches across Brazil, each with about 70 members. The church was started in Los Angeles in 1968 by the Reverend Troy Perry, specifically for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians.

The gay rights movement in Brazil has not always been supportive, seeing religion and gay rights as mutually exclusive, while evangelical Christians with influence in public life have frequently used their religion to campaign against laws such as the proposed criminalisation of homophobia in Brazil.

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Pastor Marcos Lord prepares his drag queen persona Luanda Péron at Bethel metropolitan church in Rio. Photograph: Antonio Franco

Presidential candidate Marina Silva, a pentecostal evangelist, was forced to backtrack on proposals for same-sex marriage, despite being viewed by many as a liberal, progressive figure. Since she became candidate after the death in a plane crash of Eduardo Campos, religion and issues such as gay rights have been put centre stage. A homophobic rant by fringe candidate Levy Fidelix this week overshadowed a TV election debate and caused a storm on social networks in Brazil.

“Fundamentalists say the Bible says homosexuality is a sin, but the same text says children who defy their parents should be killed,” says Lord, 40. “They choose which parts they want to believe. But why can’t I be gay and be a Christian? I just want the same respect as everyone else.”

Teacher Leia de Carvalho, 45, is like many of the congregation here. She grew up in a strict religious family, but left formal religion when she discovered her sexuality. “My dad was a Baptist pastor,” she says. “When I realised I was gay, I put myself in exile from the church for many years, but there was always something missing in my life. To my family, I was assexual. Then, in 2010, we had the first wave of civil partnerships in Brazil and I was on TV with my partner. My mother saw it.”

At first, De Carvalho’s family told her she was defying God but they gradually learned to accept her sexuality. When she discovered the Metropolitan community church, eight years ago, the final part of the puzzle fell into place. “I felt like I was coming home,” she says.

Source: Guardian UK.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 6:05 am 
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Could Brazil be the worst place in the world to be gay?
By Daniele Bassi
7 November 2014

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People take part in the 2nd Gay Parade Against Homophobia in Brasilia in support of gays, lesbians and transgender persons in on May 18, 2011. Despite such movements, an anti-LGBT culture continues to persist throughout the country. (EVARISTO SA/AFP/Getty Images)

SAO PAULO, Brazil — Every member of Mães pela Igualdade ("Mothers for Equality") – an association of parents of homosexuals in Brazil – has a story to tell. Eleonora Pereira's is one of the most heart-breaking: On Oct. 14, 2010 her 24-year-old son, José Ricardo, went missing.

Two days later he reappeared, severely beaten, at the intensive care unit of a local hospital. He died from his wounds soon after.

José Ricardo's death is suspected to be a revenge killing – a month before he died, Pereira, a human rights activist, helped convict a death squad accused of murdering the partner of a local police officer. But vengeance wasn’t the only reason why José Ricardo was murdered, investigators found. Of Pereira’s three children, he was the only homosexual.

Brazil doesn’t have explicit anti-gay laws, but that doesn’t mean gays and lesbians are any safer. Every 28 hours, an individual becomes a fatal victim of homophobia in Brazil, according to the Gay Group of Bahia, a non-government organization that defends the rights of homosexuals.

And the murders are often violent: “Besides firearms, many victims were killed by melee weapons – knife, sickle, ax – beating and hanging. There are even cases of torture and carbonization,” according to a report by Homofobiamata ("Homophobia kills"), a group that tracks the number of people who die as a result of gender violence. “These characteristics indicate that these are not trivial occurrences, but hate crimes against LGBT people.”

For instance, in 2011 it was reported that in Sao Paulo, a man had his ear cut off by a group of strangers who thought the boy he was hugging was his partner. It turned out they were father and son. Homophobia is directly linked to sexism, which is very strong in Brazil, according to studies published in 2012 by the Psychology Institute of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. More than actual sexual orientation, the way people behave or dress, when interpreted as homosexual, could lead to some sort of abuse.

The rise of evangelical fundamentalism in Brazil in the last decade and their hate speech against homosexuals is seen by many as the main contributor to this increasing homophobia. The group represents only 22 percent of the population, but unlike other religions, they are willing to use any available means to spread their views. Besides owning television and radio stations, they also managed to elect 73 representatives strong enough to defend their values in National Congress.

Criminalizing homophobia

The current law against discrimination is generic and doesn’t address homophobia specifically. For that reason, in 2001 Iara Bernardi, former member of the Chamber of Deputies (Lower House), presented a bill aimed at criminalizing homophobia.

For years, the bill passed from one commission to another finally arriving at the Federal Senate (Upper House) in 2006. The bill, now named PLC122/06, remained filed until 2011. Numerous attempts to pass this bill were hindered by evangelical backbenchers, who claimed that the bill would hurt freedom of speech and religion as those who publicly criticize homosexuality can be sentenced up to 5 years in prison. In November 2013,the bill was withdrawn from the agenda so that a "consensus on the text" could be reached. The project might be discussed again if the Penal Code in place is eventually reviewed.

During the recent presidential elections, Dilma Rouseff was the only candidate who showed support for the bill. Two days after her victory, she posted on her Facebook page that criminalizing homophobia is a “civilized measure”, drawing criticism from two of the most influencial pentecostal priests in the country, Silas Malafaia and Marco Feliciano.

Fighting for justice

The way the national law enforcement institutions deal with cases reveals the pervasiveness of homophobia. The police chief who first dealth with José Ricardo’s case suggested that he was involved in prostitution and drug trafficking. “My son was a theatre professor and choreographer,” Pereira said. “Unfortunately, whenever the police is dealing case involving homosexuals, they often assume their involvement in some sort of crime.”.

As the latest Global Study on Homicides released by the UN shows, nearly 11 percent of all homicides worldwide in 2012 happened in Brazil. For that reason, it is hard to tell an ordinary crime from a homophobic one. José Ricardo’s murderers have been incarcerated for four years. Although the investigations proved that he was killed for being gay, homophobia isn’t considered a crime, so it won’t possible to convict them for that.

“Nowadays, there are 58 countries in which homophobia is criminalized. Homophobic crimes still happen, but there have been a reduction in the cases,” said Toni Reis, executive director of Grupo Digninade (Dignity Group) – a non-government organization that promotes gender diversity. “I firmly believe that we can only achieve the end of prejudice against gay people with education and respect for human dignity. It is a long battle without an easy solution. Criminalizing homophobia is just the first step.”

Source: Global Post.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2014 6:18 am 
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Conservative Rio de Janeiro opens first nudist beach after naked campaign ... but you'll have to travel an hour to strip off
By Sarah Gordon
12 November 2014

Brazilians are known for their barely-there beachwear - but when it comes to nudity on the sands, they are much more conservative.

But after a campaign by activists, Rio de Janeiro has officially opened its first ever nudist beach - one hour away from the centre of the city. Abrico beach has been designated the city's first nudist enclave, despite many Brazilians frowning upon topless sunbathing and nudity in public areas.

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Open for business: Abrico , an hour outside of Rio, has been officially designated the city's first nudist beach

Activist Paula Nogueira has praised the move. She said: 'This is a courageous decision by the mayor and it will help Rio become a cultural and tourist reference point, especially with the city about to celebrate its 450th anniversary and the 2016 Olympic Games.' In 2013, Ms Nogueira and fellow nudist Ana Rios organised a topless protest on Facebook to be staged at the city's central Ipanema Beach, but just six women turned up to join in .

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The move was welcomed by activists, but nudism is often frowned upon by the general population

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Abrico - celebrated for its beautiful location - has long been associated with nudism, but in an unofficial way

At the time, Ms Rio said: 'I have always found strange this puritan attitude in Brazil where you see naked women everywhere during carnival and on magazine covers - yet going topless on the beach is a crime.'

Claudio Hailuc, representing a group of Abrico naturists, welcomed Tuesday's move. 'We'd been lacking security and respect for a long, long time,' he told Rio newspaper O Dia.

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Some users of the beach have warned fellow nudists to take car if they don't see flags belonging to the ANA on display

Nudists have traditionally gathered at Abrico beach, but this is the first time they have been given official recognition. The Abrico Naturista Association (ANA) has long gathered at Abrico on weekends but always warned members against going alone and in the nude, stating: 'Unfortunately many people do not understand the naturist philosophy, and they behave badly on the public beach.'

A recent TripAdvisor reviewer called Niki N explained: 'This is a quite beautiful and interesting beach, the water is too cold though. During weekdays the nude area is mostly visited by single men, especially gay men. So if you are not gay or if you are a woman, you'd better visit Abricó on weekends when you'll find a family environment.'

Claudia Regina added: 'Whoever likes nude beaches will enjoy the place, but if you get there and don't see the banners from the association, prefer not to go.'

Source: Daily Mail UK.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2014 6:30 am 
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Thousands of Brazilians march in gay rights parade
November 16, 2014

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A reveller poses during the annual Gay Pride Parade at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on November 16, 2014 (AFP Photo/Yasuyoshi Chiba)

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - Thousands of Brazilians took part in Rio de Janeiro's 19th Gay Pride parade, speaking out against homophobia in a country that has seen years of violence targeting the gay community.

Under the slogan "A million voices!", gays, lesbians, transvestites, transsexuals and supporters marched along Copacabana beach.

"It is important that the population understands their rights and they express themselves against homophobia," said Carlos Tufvesson, one of the event organizers. More than a million people were expected for the event, organizers said.

Brazil recorded 312 murders of people in the gay community in 2013. The country averages about 300 murders motivated by sexual orientation a year. The violence prompted rights group Grupo Gay da Bahia to label the country "the world champion of homophobic crimes."

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A reveller poses on a giant rainbow flag during the annual Gay Pride Parade at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on November 16, 2014 (AFP Photo/Yasuyoshi Chiba)

Around 40 percent of recorded crimes against gays in South America occur in Brazil. For years lawmakers in the Catholic and socially-conservative country have opposed a bill to criminalize homophobia. But recently the country's highest court has taken steps in favor of gay rights. In 2011, the Supreme Court recognized gay unions, which are afforded the same rights as heterosexual couples. The Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that public institutions could not reject gay marriage applications.

Source: Yahoo! AFP.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 5:11 pm 
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Mass gay wedding in Rio
24 November 2014



(ANSA) - Rio de Janeiro - A collective same-sex wedding ceremony was held in Rio on Sunday making it "the largest homosexual civil wedding ceremony in the world," said Claudio Nascimento, head of Rio de Janeiro state's Gay, Lesbian and Transsexuals Committee.

Source: ANSA.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 5:40 pm 
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Brazilians protest homophobia with kisses
February 1, 2015

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Revellers kiss during the annual Gay Pride Parade at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on November 16, 2014 (AFP Photo/Yasuyoshi Chiba)

Sao Paulo (AFP) - About 50 Brazilian protesters responded with kisses Sunday at a bar that had kicked out a presumed lesbian couple for embracing in public.

The management of the bar in the town of Ribeirao Preto said in a statement the women, ages 22 and 23, had been shown the door a week ago for "inappropriate behavior." The women immediately filed a complaint with the police and a Brazilian lawyers' association commission against homophobia.

At Sunday's protests, youths carried signs denouncing homophobia and engaged in a "beijaco," or collective kissing, as police looked on. Then four homosexual couples were permitted to enter the bar and engage in long embraces.

In 2013, 312 homosexuals, transvestites and transexuals were murdered in Brazil, a 7.7 percent drop from the previous year, but enough for the Bahia Gay Group to dub the country the "world champion of crimes against gays." Brazil accounts for 40 percent of all crimes against gays in Latin America.

A bill to punish homophobia has been sidelined for years in the Brazilian Congress by resistance from Catholics and Protestant Evangelicals. In 2011, however, the Supreme Court guaranteed same-sex couples in stable unions the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Source: Yahoo! AFP.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2015 5:04 pm 
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Brazil Promotes Safe Sex at Carnival, Handing Out Condoms
9 February 2015

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The mass distribution of condoms will just be part of a multi-pronged effort to promote safe sex ahead of Brazil's nationwide Carnival celebrations. | Photo: Reuters

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil's Health Ministry is using fake Tinder profiles and massive condom giveaways to promote safe sex during the country's no-holds-barred Carnival celebrations.

In response to the growing popularity of hookup apps like Tinder and Hornet, the ministry has created fake profiles purporting to belong to revelers interested in unprotected sex. When users contact the fake profiles, they receive messages warning about the dangers. The ministry's also running television commercials urging revelers to get HIV tests ahead of Carnival.

Officials said Monday that the ministry will distribute some 70 million condoms nationwide during the Feb. 13-17 celebrations. Hookups among revelers are common at the popular street parties known as "blocos" during Carnival.

Source: AP via New York Times.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 7:41 pm 
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Brazilians compete for kissing crown at Rio's Carnival
By Asher Levine
February 17, 2015

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Revellers kiss each other during the annual block party known as 'Carmelitas' in Rio de Janeiro February 13, 2015. REUTERS-Pilar Olivares

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Wagner de Aguiar is acting like a big baby, but the women do not seem to mind.

Standing about 6 feet (1.83 m) tall, dripping with sweat and wearing nothing but a diaper, flip-flops and an afro wig, he struggles to recount the number of women he kissed in the day. "I lost track, but I think it's about eight or nine," he said, the clock ticking 2 p.m. A few minutes later, a passing woman playfully asks if she can change his diaper, and he is at it again.

This is a typical scene at Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, where hordes of young Brazilians gather for raucous street-parties marked by free-flowing beer, loud samba music and the widely shared goal of kissing as many people as possible. Contrary to a common stereotype, Brazil is a socially conservative nation, its culture rooted in Catholic tradition. For example, skimpy bikinis are fine, but going topless at the beach is not done. Homosexuals often face prejudice.

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Revellers kiss each other during the annual block party known as 'Carmelitas' in Rio de Janeiro February 13, 2015. REUTERS-Pilar Olivares

Many view the five-day festival as the one chance to enjoy a bit of hedonism before the solemn period of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. Some locals measure that freedom in kisses, competing with their friends to see who can smooch 10, 20, even 30 different people in a single outing. While men tend to be more open about it, interviews showed women were no different, just more discreet. "Of course, girls compete too," said 18-year-old Rio native Isabela Melo. "People don't usually go around kissing everyone because society is judgmental, but it's different during Carnival."

For those unaccustomed to this local ritual, which sometimes skips the formality of an introduction in favor of a loud grunt or a tug on the arm, it can take some getting used to. "Sometimes they'll just grab you, and right away they want to stick their tongue down your throat," said Laurie Lee Hendrix, a 21-year-old from Oxford, Mississippi. "It's quite the opposite of a southern gent."

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Revellers take part in an annual block party known as 'Ceu na Terra' (Heaven in Earth), one of the many carnival parties to take place in the neighbourhoods of Rio de Janeiro, February 14, 2015. REUTERS-Ricardo Moraes

Gentlemen may be in short supply during Carnival because many feel they are in a race against time. Jarbas Biagi, a 27-year-old dressed in dainty fairy wings, was almost ashamed to admit he only gotten one kiss. "Everyone makes fun of you if you don't kiss anyone," he said. "You get extra points if you manage to kiss a girl through the window on a passing bus ... but basically its quantity, not quality."

Those struggling will always find others willing to help. If the crowd's attention latches onto a couple who are close to having a special, intimate moment, chants of "Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!" will build into a roar until their lips finally meet and the crowd erupts in cheers.

Most Carnival kisses do not come with expectations for anything beyond that moment. Sometimes they end with the exchange of contact information, but often the couple parts with little more than a "tchau" as the next target is identified. "It's fantastic; it's like everyone is on heat," said 27-year-old Londoner Jack Taylor as he scanned the crowd. "I still haven't kissed like a handshake yet, but I will."

(Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)
Source: Reuters.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:52 pm 
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Every 28 hours a LGBTI person is killed in Brazil
13 February 2015

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Piu da Silva was a transgender samba queen at Rio’s prestigious Beija-Flor school.

Her tortured corpse was found on 24 January, a week after the first alarm had been raised by friends and family who were concerned because Piu did not attend practice.

She never missed any practice session. A shocking video emerged just a day later. It shows the trans woman being tortured in Morro da Mina, a favela near the samba school, while she pleads with her unseen aggressors. Her disfigured body was found the next day, after her relatives frantically searched the area shown in the video.

Piu da Silva is one of the many people killed in Brazil. And according to the country's gay rights group Grupo Gay de Bahia, one LGBTI person is killed every 28 hours. This week the group revealed 2013 saw 312 trans, gay, or bisexual people murdered because of their sexuality.

On January 29, six days after Piu’s body was found, members of the trans community took to Rio’s city hall, holding a National Trans Visibility day to protest against the violence and prejudice directed at them. ‘Foreigners come to carnival expecting free sex and love, but the image Brazil exports of freedom and liberty is false,’ Beatrice Cordeiro, who works to get trans people into employment, told The Guardian. 'There is a lot of prejudice in society still.‘

Source: GayStarNews.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2015 5:19 am 
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Thousands demonstrate in Sao Paulo for gay rights
7 June 2015

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Gay Pride Parade in Sao Paulo - © Carlos Villalba R, EPA

Sao Paulo (dpa) - Thousands of people - some dressed in flamboyant costumes - demonstrated Sunday in the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil in a colourful display in support of rights for gays, lesbians and transsexuals.

The parade moved to loud music as it passed through the heart of Brazil's financial centre. This year's gay parade slogan was: "I was born and raised this way and will always be this way. Respect me."

Sao Paulo's parade is billed as the largest demonstration in support of gays and lesbians in the world. An estimated 2 million people were expected to take part as the demonstration continued into the night. Fernando Quaresma, head of the organizing committee for the event, said there had been political setbacks for homosexuals in Brazil in recent years that had "threatened everything we have reached."

The current Congress is significantly more conservative that before, he said, pointing to a bill calling for the psychological treatment of homosexuals and a suggestion that the government set aside a day for heterosexual pride.

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Gay Pride Parade in Sao Paulo - © Carlos Villalba R, EPA

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Source: dpa.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2015 3:22 pm 
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Rio de Janeiro prisons seek to protect transgender inmates
By JENNY BARCHFIELD
28 July 2015

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In this July 8, 2015 photo, trangender inmate Estefanie Ferraz poses for a portrait next to a mural that reads in Portuguese: "Educate for freedom" as she serves time at the Evaristo de Moraes prison in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Mauro Pimentel) The Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — When Estefanie Ferraz went to prison, she had been living as a woman for around a decade, had undergone more than half a dozen plastic surgeries including breast and cheek implants to enhance her feminine looks, and was saving up for a sex change operation.

But her identification card said she was a man. The transgender 29-year-old was sent to a prison for men in Rio de Janeiro where, she says, she was stripped of her female name and shorn of her long locks and dignity.

Brazil's penitentiaries are notorious for rampant overcrowding and violence endured by all inmates. But advocates say few prisoners are as vulnerable as transvestites and transgender people, who are often singled out for taunting and physical and sexual abuse. In Rio de Janeiro, new regulations aim to curb such abuse within the state's 52 penitentiaries.

Advocates have hailed the rules that ban discrimination against Rio state's approximately 600 transgender prisoners and protect their gender identities while behind bars. "In Brazil, even regular prisoners are an invisible to society at large. Transgender prisoners are doubly invisible . and vulnerable," said Claudio Nascimento, who heads the Rio Without Homophobia advocacy group, which lobbied for the new rules. "There was a generalized lack of respect and acceptance" of transgender prisoners, said Col. Erir Ribeiro da Costa Filho, head of the Rio state prison agency. With the new regulations, "we're trying to bring dignified treatment into the system."

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In this July 8, 2015 photo, transgender inmate Danny Campos de Oliveira watches his boyfriend, inmate Bruno da Silva, as they talk inside Evaristo de Moraes Prison, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Mauro Pimentel)

The rules adopted in late May allow transvestite and transgender inmates to be known by their common, rather than only their legal, names. They guarantee access to conjugal visits and let transgender people who identify as female to decide whether to serve their sentences in a women's facility. In the United States, federal standards mandate that decisions about whether to house transgender inmates in male or female facilities be made on an individual basis, depending in part on where they would be safest.

Rio's new rules also guarantee access to hormone therapy, which is available to inmates in some U.S. states, and allow transgender prisoners living as women to wear lingerie and makeup and keep their hair long. Transgender inmates are also spared humiliating strip searches in front of other prisoners and will no longer have to remove their shirts for sunbaths.

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In this July 8, 2015 photo, transgender inmate Thayla Marcolino moves a door inside the Evaristo de Moraes prison in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Mauro Pimentel)

Usually a highlight of life for prisoners held in overcrowded cells, sunbaths were a nightmare for Ferraz. After shaving off her mane of curls, guards at one all-male facility forced her to remove her shirt in the courtyard, exposing her implanted breasts to hundreds of fellow prisoners. "It was beyond horrible," said Ferraz, a former prostitute serving a 10-year sentence for the attempted murder of a man she says pulled a gun on her after soliciting sex. "Everyone was staring, cat-calling, screaming at me."

Rio's new measures were adopted amid an outcry over the brutal beating in April of a transgender woman at a detention center in neighboring Sao Paulo state. Police are investigating allegations that officers tortured Veronica Bolina after graphic photos of her went viral on social media. In images taken before her detention, Bolina is striking, with cat eyes, prominent cheekbones and flowing hair. After, she's all but unrecognizable, her hair roughly shorn, her face a puffy patchwork of lesions and her eyes swollen shut.

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In this July 8, 2015 photo, transgender inmates joke around while serving time at the Evaristo de Moraes prison in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Mauro Pimentel)

LGBT advocates say it's hard to measure the extent of such abuse against transvestite and transgender prisoners in Brazil because it often goes unreported. In Bolina's case, she initially blamed her wounds on fellow prisoners, apparently out of worries about possible police retaliation. But experts agree that transgender prisoners worldwide are at much higher risk of abuse than other inmates — particularly sexual abuse. "Transgender prisoners are one of the most vulnerable groups (for) sexual violence in detention," said Jesse Lerner-Kinglake, spokesman of the California-based nonprofit Just Detention International that supports efforts to stop prison rapes. He cited a U.S. Justice Department report issued last year in which nearly 40 percent of transgender inmates surveyed reported being the victim of sexual violence over the prior year, as well as a 2007 report by California's prison authority that found transgender inmates are 13 times more likely to be victims of sexual assault than other prisoners.

In Brazil, advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people say the criminal factions that dominate prisons can actually help shield transgender inmates from sexual assault. Those groups typically ostracize transgender prisoners, requiring them to eat off separate dishes and avoid even accidental physical contact with the general population. Inmates found to have had sexual contact with transsexuals risk retaliations that can include lynching.

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In this July 8, 2015 photo, gay inmate Bruno da Silva shows one of the tattoos he had made while serving time at the Evaristo de Moraes prison in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Mauro Pimentel)

Still, the protection afforded by such discrimination only goes so far. "When there's a prison riot, when the criminal factions that control the penitentiaries decide to mutiny, transgender inmates are always the first ones to be killed," said Rio de Janeiro Congressman Jean Wyllys, an LGBT rights crusader.

Danny Campos de Oliveira, serving an 18-month sentence for a larceny conviction, said the new rules have already improved prison life. Before transgender prisoners were "bald and ugly, with beards because they couldn't use hormones," said Oliveira, whose hair shone with blond highlights. Now, they "come out of here with more dignity, a bit less marginalized."

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In this July 8, 2015 photo, inmate Bruno da Silva, right, holds hands with his partner, transgender inmate Danny Campos de Oliveira, inside the Evaristo de Moraes Prison, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Mauro Pimentel)

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2015 3:19 pm 
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'I do, I do, I do:' Brazilian female trio get hitched
By Laura Bonilla
30 October 2015

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The arrangement is based on a Supreme Court ruling that in 2011 authorized notary publics to hold civil union ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples (AFP Photo/Paul Faith)

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - Three's a crowd? Not in Brazil, where three women have defied deeply conservative trends in Congress and wider traditional mores by celebrating a polyamorous civil union.

The happy trio, who reportedly have shared a bed for years and say they want to raise a child, took an oath of love in early October in the presence of Rio de Janeiro notary public Fernanda de Freitas Leitao. "This union is not just symbolic," because it defines "how they intend to have children," attorney Leitao said.

The lovers -- a businesswomen and a dentist who are both 32 and a 34-year-old office manager -- have been together for three years and wish to remain anonymous. Despite salacious media speculation about their supposed love life, they are in fact shy, their lawyer said.

The union is not a formal marriage, because under Brazilian law that would be bigamy. Neither are they automatically allowed to declare joint income or join a healthcare plan for spouses. But the civil union is still a big step, according to the lawyer. "If they seek these rights before a court, they could obtain them -- and I think they will," Leitao said.

They also have a better chance now of making good on their plan to create a three-parent family, Leitao said. "Our union is the fruit of love," the unnamed businesswoman in the trio told the daily O Globo. "We are preparing for my pregnancy.... The legalization is a way for the baby and for us to not end up abandoned and penniless. We want to enjoy the same maternal rights that everyone else has."

While these are the first women to enter a three-way civil union, a similar ceremony was held in 2012 for a man and two women in Sao Paulo state. Both arrangements are based on a Supreme Court ruling that in 2011 authorized notary publics to hold civil union ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples. According to Leitao, "all the principles and fundamentals" of that ruling "can also be applied to polyamorous relationships."

Brazil, the world's most populous Catholic country with a growing Evangelical population, is full of contradictions, including a permissive view of sexual relations typified by the famous tiny Brazilian bikini. In Congress, one of the most socially conservative in Brazil's history, legislators are currently debating a measure that defines a "family" as the union between a man and a woman.

But at the same time, polyamorous relationships are common in popular culture, including in two poplar telenovelas and a TV documentary series. Fans of the topic will dip into a 1996 novel by Jorge Amado called "Dona Flor And Her Two Husbands."

Anthropologist Antonio Cerdeira Pilao, an expert on polyamory at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, says Brazil has had a lax attitude to rules about traditional couples since colonial times, when sexual relations between slave owners and slaves was common.

Not everyone is excited with the racy new model family, though. "We are on the path towards chaos," fumed Euder Faber Guedes, head of a major evangelical organization. He considers such relationships an "aberration... opposed to nature as established by God." "Men with men do not produce children," said lawmaker and evangelical pastor Hidekazu Takayama in a late September congressional debate. "Satan is laughing, shaking up family structures while arguing for the human rights of modern women," Takayama fulminated on his Facebook page ahead of the debate.

Source: Yahoo! AFP

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:34 am 
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Brazil widens investigation of gang rape in Rio suburb
By ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON
25 October 2016

SAO GONCALO, Brazil (AP) -- Brazilian police widened the probe into a brutal gang rape by suspected drug dealers on the outskirts of Rio after the woman told investigators it wasn't the first time she had been sexually assaulted by traffickers, officials said Tuesday.

The fact that the same woman was apparently victimized more than once infuriated activists by highlighting the pervasive violence against women and girls in Latin America's largest nation. In May, Brazilians were shocked by the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl, and the posting of videos of the assault on social media.

The latest victim, a 34-year-old saleswoman, said her nightmare began in March 2013 when her then-boyfriend took her to a party where she had drinks. She said 12 men assaulted her after she lost consciousness. Debora Rodrigues, head of the investigative unit for crimes against women in Rio's Sao Goncalo suburb, said the woman learned she had been raped because her attackers shot a video of it and sent it around. "It's the first time she is talking about the case in 2013 because she was scared of having her life exposed along with the life of her children," Rodrigues said. "She is very shaken."

The woman has already identified seven of the men she says assaulted her in 2013, and Rodrigues said authorities have widened the investigation into this year's alleged rape to include the earlier case. The attackers in both cases are believed to be drug traffickers operating in the region.

Her nightmare continued last week in a bar in Sao Goncalo, a violent and impoverished bedroom city separated from Rio by the Guanabara Bay. The first moments of the second attack were captured by a bar security camera. The bar's owner, Manuel Moreira Santos, said the woman was having beers with a patron when three or four teenagers arrived and interrupted the couple. Santos said he heard one of them tell the man: "You are buying beers for a woman that belongs to others. She is mine."

In the video broadcast by the main news channels, a woman is dragged against her will to the men's bathroom where she was reportedly forced to perform oral sex. The bar's owner then appears to approach the group. "I felt there was something evil happening. I went to tell them. For the love of God, not here," Santos recalls telling the teenagers, fearing they could hurt him.

The woman tried to escape but was taken to a nearby lot and raped by the group that had grown bigger. Rodrigues said the victim's cries got louder as the men began to threaten to use tree branches.

Police are seeking eight other teenagers besides the two who were detained the night of the attack, when police found the victim naked and crying next to a sewage canal. Because they are minors, a juvenile court judge would decide how long they would be held in a juvenile correctional center.

The way police responded to the second attack has been called into question. The woman said she was taken to the station in the same car as two of the 10 teenagers who attacked her and that agents used vulgar language with her. Police said in a statement there were no more cars available that night, but clarified the officers made sure the victim was safe. An investigation was opened to probe the police conduct.

Brazil reported more than 47,000 rapes in 2014, according to a non-governmental group Public Safety Forum that compiles law enforcement data of each state. A recent study commissioned by the federal government found that 147,691 women had to seek medical help for domestic or sexual violence in 2014.

Sexual assaults have recently sparked a spate of marches against gender violence across Latin America. Last week, tens of thousands of people protested in Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay under the slogan "Not one less." A march protesting gender violence was held late Tuesday evening in Rio.

Source: AP

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