BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — A Brazilian congressional human rights committee on Thursday approved legislation that would allow psychologists to treat homosexuality as a disorder or pathology.
The commission is led by evangelical pastor Marco Feliciano of the Social Christian Party, who has been accused of homophobia and enraged activists by calling AIDS a “gay cancer” in a tweet. His appointment as head the Commission for Human Rights and Minorities in the lower house of Brazil’s Congress was fiercely opposed by gay and human rights groups.
The measure approved Tuesday seeks to lift a prohibition on psychologists treating homosexuality that was established by the Federal Psychology Council. The ban has been in effect since 1999.
Despite its reputation as one of the greatest party countries on the planet and home of the world’s largest gay pride parade, Brazil has a startling violent streak directed at the LGBT community. Hate crimes against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are incredibly common and despite calls from rights groups, the violence hasn’t abated.
Grupo Gay da Bahia (GGB), the country’s oldest and largest gay rights advocacy group, reports there was a gay hate crime every 36 hours in 2011, and the numbers are only growing. In the first weeks of 2012, 75 people have already been murdered — just for being gay.
Brazil allows same-sex marriage, adoption by same-sex couples, and even includes gender reassignment surgery in state-sponsored medical procedures. But GGB’s report suggests the truth is different than what meets the eye, in that many Brazilians are stridently homophobic.
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.
A Brazilian state has approved a law banning the use of public funds to pay for events where songs that offend women and gays are played.
The state legislature of the northeastern state of Bahia approved the law Tuesday night. Governor Jacques Wagner must now sanction it.
The law says no state government agency can finance events in which songs that denigrate women and gays are played. Songs with lyrics that encourage acts of violence against women and gays and the use of drugs are also included in the ban.
Brazil’s government for the first time has granted a foreign citizen the right to live permanently in the country based on a same-sex relationship with a Brazilian citizen, according to a notice published Monday in the country’s Federal Register.
Spanish man, Antonio Vega Herrera, and his Brazilian partner live in the town of Aracatuba in Sao Paulo state.
The action grows out of an October ruling by country’s Supreme Court that recognized same-sex marriage, giving gay couples the rights such as the ability to jointly file taxes and to jointly adopt a child.