In a landmark decision, Brazil’s Supreme Court has asserted that incidents of homophobia and transphobia directed at LGBTQ+ individuals should be treated as criminal offenses equivalent to acts of racism.
The 9-1 ruling signifies that hateful speech targeting individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity can now result in prison sentences of up to five years.
While the court had previously determined in 2019 that homophobic speech was unlawful at the same level of racisim, this only encompassed generalised hate speech directed at the LGBTQ+ community as a whole.
This new ruling, however, extends protection to LGBTQ+ individuals who are victims of targeted hate speech.
Additionally, it ensures that perpetrators are not eligible for bail and eliminates time constraints for taking incidents to court.
The case was initiated by the Brazilian LGBTQ Association (ABGLT), which argued that establishing equivalence with racism was essential to safeguard individual LGBTQ+ members in addition to protecting them as a collective.
Paulo Mariante, ABGLT’s lawyer, hailed the court’s decision as “a significant advancement.”
He told Globo, “I would say that it complements the progress we made earlier with the inclusion of LGBTphobia within the racism genre, which we know is an everyday situation. This decision helps us combat hate speech, and we wholeheartedly welcome it.”
Despite Brazil offering considerable legal human rights protections for the LGBTQ+ community, including marriage rights, it remains one of the most perilous countries for LGBTQ+ individuals.
According to Transgender Europe’s annual Trans Murder Monitoring project, Brazil accounted for the highest number of reported murders of transgender people between October 1, 2021, and September 30, 2022, with a staggering 96 deaths recorded.
Local organization Grupo Gay da Bahia reported a tragic toll of 273 violent deaths among LGBTQ+ Brazilians in 2022. This somber figure encompasses 228 murders and 30 suicides.