Criminalizing Homophobia and Lack of Support

By Alinne Lopes Gomes

Photo by Joshua Stitt on Unsplash

Brazil’s tentative of criminalizing homophobia and the lack of government support. 

“Dandara dos Santos’ murder brought the discussion on criminalizing homophobia and other sexual orientation and gender identity violence, back to the table.”

In 2006, the Congress received the proposal for the bill 122. It was originally proposed by then Congresswoman Iara Bernardi and viewed to alter the Racism Law (Lei 7.716/1989); the crimes motivated by ethnical or racial reasons were subjected to punishment of up to five years. If the bill 122 had been sanctioned it would’ve added to the rank of the law, crimes motivated by gender identity and sexual orientation. After being approved on the first chamber of Congress, it got stuck on the second. 
The subject was brought back by a popular suggestion made in 2016; it also proposed that the 7.716/1989 Law was edited to include hate crimes driven against LGBT individuals. The suggestion of number 5 shows an interest of the civil society in creating specific legislation to protect members from the LGBT community; the proposal is passing through the commissions of Congress and if it’s approved, it will then be transformed into a bill to be submitted on the House through the Legislative Process.
The lack of criminalization of conducts and violence against LGBT people makes it harder to combat the institutionalized prejudice present in Brazilian society. The constitutional principles are constantly crashing against each other when speeches that might be considered hate crimes are shielded under the umbrella of freedom of speech. Passing a law explicitly establishing that certain opinions and ideologies voiced out loud could constitute a hate crime would be an advancement for the LGBT community and it would give its members legal protection and resources to fight this violence. 
It is not only the speeches that threaten LGBT life and safety. The cases of homophobic, transphobic, biphobic and lesbophobic motived crimes have been a constant presence in Brazil. Cases like the 2016’s murder of Priscila Aparecida Santos da Costa, a 25-year-old woman who was shot twice in front of her girlfriend after a fight with a lesbophobic male in a bar. In 2011, a man and his son were mistaken as a gay couple and assaulted by a group of seven young men; one of the assailants bit the father’s ear off. This year, a transgender young woman was kidnapped and stoned to death after leaving a party in Goiás. Emmanuelle Muniz was 21 years old. 
One of the most famous crimes instigated by transphobia was the murder of transvestite Dandara dos Santos. Dandara was 42 years old when she was killed in Fortaleza, Ceará. Her murder was filmed and shared on the internet; she was beaten with wooden boards, kicked, punched and humiliated. Her death serves as an example of the brutality to which trans women are exposed to in the country and gives voice to the need to strengthen the punishment to this type of crime and guarantee that LGBTQ+ are safe in their own country. 

This article is extracted from the Research paper titled 'LGBT Policies and Overall Safety in Brazil'  in Chapter 4 of the Safety Report by SAFIGI Outreach Foundation 'Safety First for Girls'.

The Safety Report by SAFIGI is a two-fold Open research on 'Core Issues Affecting Safety of Girls in the Developing World.' The first part of the Safety Report is a Research Paper. The second part is a detailed Data Analysis. 

The Safety Report Research paper is titled: 'Core Issues Affecting Safety of Girls in the Developing World.' The paper starts with an abstract before focusing on subjects in the key regions of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. A total of 7 Research papers make up the safety Report (sans the introduction and conclusion), including:

  1. The psychological effect of mass sexual harassment on girls in Egypt (P.24) by Heba Elasiouty.
  2. Safety concerns in relation to social media: Growing up female in an increasingly digital world (P.45) by Karin Temperley.
  3. Psychosocial challenges faced by parents raising children with physical disabilities in Oshana region (P.68) by Misumbi Shikaputo.
  4. Gender-based violence and subsequent safety challenges experienced by Rohingya women (P.119) by Shucheesmita Simonti.
  5. LGBT policies and overall safety in Brazil (P.141) by Alinne Lopes Gomes.
  6. Silent voices‘: Violence against the female body as consequence of machismo culture (P.177)  by Steffica Warwick.
  7. America‘s Public Policy on Sexuality: The Repression of Girls in Vulnerable Populations (P.208) by Dr. Christina Sisti.

SAFIGI Outreach Foundation Ltd, a volunteer-based and youth led NGO registered in Zambia, implemented the Safety Report in order to understand the multifaceted concept of safety and how it applies to the female gender in diverse settings. And therefore, further prove safety is intrinsic, and that vices in society stem from an intimate level of the human being before its manifestation. This way, when we create safety solutions, whether it be in a developing nation, conflict zone, refugee camp, or patriarchal society, the problem is resolved from a deeply rooted cause. Such that, we treat the disease itself and not mere symptoms.

This study is as a result of collaborative effort pursued in the spirit of volunteerism via UN Online Volunteers.


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