This weekend, São Paulo will play host to Brazil’s biggest LGBT Pride parade, gathering tens of thousands of advocates. LGBT movements have made huge strides within conservative, Catholic Brazil in recent years. However, these movements still face huge obstacles today, from creating safe spaces within their private communities to finding guaranteed safe physical spaces across the country.
Increases in homophobic violence
Homophobia is not new for Brazil. Despite recent successes, including the passing of laws four years ago to allow gay marriage, it has been growing worse in recent years.
The Gay Group of Bahia (GGB) conducts extensive research on anti-LGBT crime in Brazil. Their statistics are often used and cited by international studies, since Brazil lacks a federal body to monitor these crimes. GGB’s recent research with the Association for the Defense of Human Rights of Homosexuals in Brazil found that the country is a world leader for death tolls of gays, lesbians, and transgenders.
But other groups are starting to pay attention and speak out against anti-LGBT violence. According to the Brazilan Bar Association (OAB), the number of homophobic violence cases grew by 20 percent in the first four months of 2017.
The biggest victims may be trans Brazilians: in 2016, 144 of the 343 LGBT homicides in Brazil were trans. The OAB has tried in recent years to criminalize homophobia, making it a crime similar to racism. However, they have not yet been successful.
Women within the movement feel ignored
The day before São Paulo’s Pride march, women within the movement hold their own protest walk. Created in 2003, the Women’s March calls attention to their rights, which they feel are eclipsed in mainstream LGBT debates.
The March also includes questions of other minorities within the movement. They make efforts to include issues facing black and mixed-race LGBT individuals, as well as bringing topics like maternity to the forefront.
Within Brazil, LGBT individuals are carving out safer spaces within the bigger cities. São Paulo has the highest number of same-sex stable unions on record, with 144 this year. It accounts for 20 percent of the country’s same-sex stable unions, while Rio de Janeiro accounts for 12.8 percent.
Meanwhile, right-wing politician Jair Bolsonáro is gaining ground amid speculation that he may run for President in 2018. Bolsonáro is known, among other things, for his strong anti-LGBT beliefs.