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Brazil’s LGBT community celebrated across the country over the last week, for Gay Pride. Michael Fox reports

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MIKE FOX Brazil’s LGBT community celebrated across the country over the last week, for Gay Pride.

Hundreds of thousands hit the streets in Sao Paulo, on Sunday, June 23, for the country’s largest celebration.

In Florianopolis, the capital of the conservative Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, people commemorated on Friday, Gay Pride day, which marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that effectively launched the LGBT movement. They held a fair, talks, performances and a march in the evening. 

PEDRO CABRAL FILHO We are here to say that we have nothing to hide. Taking to the streets, walking on the streets, is a political act. The relationship between two men, or two women, or the way that we act in public with respect to gender is a political act and we don’t have to be shameful of this. On the contrary, we can be proud.”

MIKE FOX But 6 months into the government of far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s gay, lesbian and trans community is facing a wave of hate crimes.

Bolsonaro has called himself a “proud homophobe.” And said he would rather have his son dead than gay. One of his first measures was to cut LGBT rights from the country’s human rights guidelines. Brazil’s leading gay congressman Jean Wyllys fled the county at the beginning of the year after a series of threats to his life.

FANNY SPINA FRANCA  Bolsonaro is legitimizing homophobic violence. There’s been a surge in hate speech, and we feel it in the streets. So we are here today to fight, but even more to celebrate people’s lives. We live in Brazil, the country with the highest murder rate against the LGBT community, principally for transexual and transvestites, and we are here to celebrate the lives of those who have survived the violence and say that we will not accept it.

MIKE FOX Even before Bolsonaro, Brazil was already the most violent in the world for the LGBT community. 445 people were killed in 2017, alone, according to a report by the Bahia Gay Group. Nearly half of the world’s reported murders of trans and gender-diverse people in 2018, took place in Brazil, according to the NGO Transgender Europe.

Marcela Barreiro Batista is a high school student who attended the march. This was her first time at a rally.

MARCELA BARREIRO BATISTA There are a lot of things that are wrong and in order to change that, we need to come out, and call people’s attention to them. They need to see that we are here. We don’t want anything bad. We just want respect and equality.

MIKE FOX They marched downtown, to the Metropolitan Cathedral.

In Brazil, same-sex couples have won increasing victories, in recent decades, including the right to marry and adopt children. The country’s federal Supreme Court recently criminalized homophobia and transphobia, putting such crimes on par with discrimination against race, color or ethnicity. But with a Bolsonaro government set on rolling back LGBT rights, they know they have a hard fight ahead.

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Michael Fox is a Latin America-based media maker and the former director of video production at teleSUR English.