Human rights groups have expressed concern over the recent arrest of an openly gay Brazilian soldier.

Just days before the presidential address concerning Brazil’s highly anticipated national gay rights conference, the arrest of Sergeant Laci Marinho de Araujo marks a disturbing possibility that LGBT rights in Brazil (and especially the military) might not be progressing quite as rapidly as what was originally thought.

The sergeant and his long-term partner, fellow military man Fernando Alcantara de Figueiredo, had recently appeared on the cover of Brazilian magazine Epoca, and had subsequently agreed to an interview at a local television station on Wednesday to discuss their stable ten year relationship.

It was immediately after this interview that military authorities surrounded the building and de Araujo was taken into custody.

The ministry of defence says the sergeant is to be questioned about alleged desertion from the military and that the arrest does not concern the sergeant’s sexuality.

De Araujo himself claims that his ‘desertion’ was due to an increasing number of health problems, both physical and mental, and that he is clearly a victim of “sexual discrimination.”

In an interview on Sunday night on the television show Fantástico, Figueiredo denied that his partner had been arrested for desertion. He said that he was afraid for his own life and claimed to have been threatened by the military.

Human rights groups say they are concerned about his welfare, but Defence Minister Nelson Jobim claims: “This is not a problem of sexual discrimination, but rather one of discipline.”

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