As Brazil faces a spike in anti-LGBTQ hate crimes, the country’s Supreme Court has voted to make homophobia and transphobia illegal.
In a landmark decision, six of the 11 judges said that it is unconstitutional to exclude sexual orientation and gender from Brazil’s existing anti-discrimination law.
The ruling will only be official when the remaining five judges vote on the matter at another hearing on June 5, although their decision will not change the final outcome.
“Homophobic crimes are as alarming as physical violence,” said Supreme Court Vice-President Luiz Fux, reported the BBC. He added that Brazil was beset by “epidemic levels of homophobic violence.”
Once the ruling has been confirmed next month, homophobia and transphobia will be covered under the country’s anti-racism law until lawmakers enact legislation specifically protecting LGBTQ people.
While LGBTQ Brazilians have many rights, including marriage equality and the right to adopt, the country has the world’s highest LGBTQ murder rate, with 420 LGBTQ people killed in 2018, according to the organisation Grupo Gay da Bahia.
The election last year of homophobic President Jair Bolsonaro has further fueled anti-LGBTQ sentiment in the country. He recently told reporters that he doesn’t want gay tourists coming to Brazil because “we have families.”
In 2002, Bolsonaro, a former soldier, said: “If I see two men kissing each other in the street, I’ll whack them.” In 2011, he commented that “I would be incapable of loving a gay son,” adding that he would, “rather my son died in an accident than showed up with some bloke with a moustache.”
Bolsonaro has equated homosexuality to paedophilia and suggested that most homosexuals who are murdered are sex workers and not worthy of protection through legislation.