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Road to Rio: The Status of LGBTQ Equality in Brazil

by HRC staff August 03, 2016

Post submitted with contributions from Katherine Burns

Ahead of the 2016 Olympics, HRC is taking a look at the status of LGBTQ equality in Brazil. To learn more, check out HRC’s Global Spotlight on the host country.

Every year, millions of people participate in Pride parades in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Brazil’s sexual and gender diversity is reflected in these and other Prides in the country, and revelers celebrate notable victories including marriage equality. However, Brazil remains plagued by homophobia and transphobia. According to Grupo Gay de Bahia, an LGBTQ civil rights organization in Brazil, the country has the highest levels of reported violence against the LGBTQ community in the world.

The Brazilian government has enacted many laws protecting minority communities, including LGBTQ people. In 2013, Brazil approved marriage equality. It was also among the first countries in the region to allow same-sex couples to jointly adopt children. These victories, however, are a result of actions taken by the executive and judicial branches of the government. The Brazilian National Congress has been passive, and sometimes even hostile, toward LGBTQ equality.

While progress is being made despite the country’s conservative and macho culture, the gains have not tamped down an epidemic of violence targeting LGBTQ community. On average, an LGBTQ person is killed every day in Brazil, according to Grupo Gay de Bahia. Transgender women and other gender non-conforming people are disproportionately affected by anti-LGBTQ violence.

Brazil’s National Congress has often blocked legislation to protect these vulnerable groups. However, cities including Rio de Janeiro have bypassed the national legislature, enacting their own ordinances prohibiting discrimination and providing equal access to government services to the LGBTQ community. As the world tunes into the 2016 Olympics in Rio later this week, HRC commends the city for its non-discrimination ordinance passed in 2000.

Travelers heading to Rio are encouraged to review the State Department’s travel advisory for the Olympics, and remain vigilant about the potential for violence, both in general and targeting the LGBTQ community. 

HRC staff
HRC staff


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