Brazil has never been hotter. Tourists and entrepreneurs are flocking to the country for its natural beauty and its booming business climate. Portuguese professionals are seeking work in the former colony. And the country’s legendary party scene is at a fever pitch. But behind the “Carnaval” mask, an ugly trend is emerging.
Though the overall crime rate is down sharply in major cities, murders of gays and lesbians are on the rise. It’s especially acute in the most populous areas: Bahia, Minas Gerais, and the cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo—precisely where police have made their biggest dents in criminal activity in general.
Attacks against gays have climbed steadily for most of the last decade, with 272 murdered in 2011—one every 36 hours, according to Grupo Gay da Bahía, a leading gay-rights group that tracks antigay violence. This year, GGB reports, it’s even worse, with 75 murders in just the first 10 weeks. That’s one every 24 hours.