Things That Matter

Brazil’s Supreme Court Votes To Make Homophobia And Transphobia Crimes Despite The Bolsonaro Administration Being Vehemently Anti-LGBTQ+

Brazil’s Supreme Court has voted in favor of the LGBTQ community making homophobia and transphobia a crime. Last week, a majority of judges in Brazil’s top court voted to criminalize this type of discrimination. The ruling is in many ways a rebuke to Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who ran a platform filled with homophobic rhetoric.

The Brazilian Supreme Court’s ruling comes at a time in Brazil when citizens fear that the new president will roll back LGBTQ+ progress.

Six of the 11 justice judges of the Supreme Court voted to make it a crime to discriminate people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Two different laws, one with language targeting homophobia, another for transphobia, will be added to the law that criminalizes racism until Congress can approve a bill.

President Bolsonaro has been a force against LGBTQ+ progress in Brazil and has openly spoken of his dislike for the community. Shortly after taking office, Bolsonaro removed LGBT+ responsibilities from the human rights ministry and declared that the country can’t become a place for the LGBTQ+ community.

“If you want to come here and have sex with a woman, go for your life,” Bolsonaro told journalists in April. “But we can’t let this place become known as a gay tourism paradise. Brazil can’t be a country of the gay world, of gay tourism. We have families.”

While some may say it’s late, Brazil has made significant social progress in the last 30 years.

For almost 20 years, there have been attempts to make homophobia a crime in Brazil. But legislation on the issue has constantly faced resistance among conservative and religious groups in Congress.

It took until 1989 for racism to be made labeled a crime in Brazil, with prison sentences of up to five years. The court’s ruling says that homophobia should be framed within the racism law until specific language and legislation is adopted.

Brazil legalized same-sex marriage in 2013 and gave LGBTQ+ couples the right to adopt shortly after. It’s also home to São Paulo’s Pride Parade, the world’s largest pride demonstration and Rio de Janeiro’s famous gay beach attracts tourists worldwide.

But despite this, Brazil is still considered a dangerous country for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Grupo Gay da Bahia (GGB), Brazil’s oldest LGBTQ rights organization, 320 LGBTQ+ people were killed in Brazil last year, while at least 141 have been killed so far this year.

Many are celebrating this landmark moment for LGBTQ+ progress in Brazil.

LGBTQ+ advocates have said this sort of negative rhetoric from President Bolsonaro has only added to the dangerous climate. So the ruling has become a landmark moment in terms of social and LGBTQ+ progress in the country. Many celebrated the moment on social media sharing their happiness of the news that protects countless in Brazil.

One user said, “Finally, homophobia is a crime in Brazil. Every day is a day to respect the next.” Another echoed the same sentiment by saying, “A very important step forward in the rights of the LGBT in Brazil. The Supreme Court approved yesterday the criminalization of Homophobia!!”

The majority decision is a major victory for the LGBTQ community and is a testament to changing cultures in countries around the world. While homophobia won’t end altogether by this ruling, it’s a step in the right direction.

The ruling “comes at a very good moment, when we have a head of state who is LGBT-phobic,” Bruna Benevides, president of the Niteroi Diversity group, told the AP. “The Supreme Court assumed the responsibility to protect us.”

READ: Here’s How Brazil’s New President Went After LGBTQ People And Minorities His First Week In Office

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More Anti-Trans Bills Have Been Introduced in 2021 Than Any Year in History

Things That Matter

More Anti-Trans Bills Have Been Introduced in 2021 Than Any Year in History

Trans rights are under siege in over half of the United States this year, as 28 states have proposed one or more anti-trans bills. The bills range from banning trans children from playing on sports teams to prohibiting doctors from giving trans youth life-saving care. 

Despite winning the White House and both houses of Congress, we cannot grow complacent. Now is the time for others from the LGBTQ community and allies to stand up and protect our trans brothers and sisters.

At least 28 states have proposed anti-trans legislation that could severely harm the community.

Less than three months into the new year, Republican lawmakers have already introduced a record number of anti-trans bills across the country.

According to a report published Monday by Axios, at least 73 pieces of legislation have already been put forward in state legislatures targeting members of the transgender community. Of those proposals, 65 specifically single out trans youth, such as bills prohibiting the kinds of medical care doctors can offer trans minors and others seeking to limit the participation of trans student athletes in school sports. 

Notable examples include legislative efforts by South Dakota and Mississippi, both of which passed bills in the past week blocking trans girls from competing in school athletics in accordance with their gender identity. After being approved by their respective Houses and Senates, their governors have vowed to sign them.

These would be the first bills of their kind to become law in the U.S. after numerous attempts to pass anti-trans sports bills in previous years. In 2019, a bill targeting trans student athletes failed in the South Dakota House by just one vote.

LGBTQ+ advocates are warning that the influx of this type of legislation will harm trans and nonbinary youth.

Trans advocates and experts argue that bills like this do not protect young trans people, and recent studies support this. In February, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a report which argued that banning the trans community from certain sports programs would deprive an entire group of people of the benefits of athletics, including lower risks of depression, anxiety, and drug use. Despite so many states introducing legislation targeting trans youth in sports, the report also found that the argument of an “unfair advantage” does not actually hold up to data-driven scrutiny.

“This has been a significant part of my work at the ACLU for the past six years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU, told CNN. “There have never been this many bills targeting trans youth voted out of committee and then making it to the floor.”

There is widespread opposition to anti-trans bills, and not just from LGBTQ+ civil rights groups. More than 55 major corporations have endorsed a statement against these bills and anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in general; they include Facebook, Pfizer, Microsoft, AT&T, Apple, Dell, American Airlines, and many more. Nearly 550 college athletes have signed a letter to the National Collegiate Athletic Association demanding that championship games be pulled from states that have anti-trans sports laws or are close to enacting them. More than 1,000 child welfare groups have taken a stand against legislation that would keep trans youth out of school sports or deny them health care.

States that enact anti-LGBTQ+ legislation often experience boycotts, as was the case with North Carolina and its anti-trans “bathroom bill” in 2016 and Indiana with its discriminatory religious freedom law in 2015. The former has now been repealed, the latter amended.

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Selena Gomez Tells Senate to Pass Equality Act, Credits Gay Community with Launching Her Music Career

Entertainment

Selena Gomez Tells Senate to Pass Equality Act, Credits Gay Community with Launching Her Music Career

After the Equality Act was recently passed in the House, Selena Gomez is now telling the Senate to pass the bill that would give added federal protections to the LGBTQ+ community. The Mexican-American pop star also talked about her history with the gay community and how they helped support her music career.

The Equality Act would extend protections from the Civil Rights Act to the LGBTQ+ community.

The Equality Act was first introduced in 2015. The bill would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to extend protections against discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity when it came to employment, housing, education, and other public and federal accommodations. In 2019, the Senate under President Donald Trump refused to vote on the bill.

The Equality Act recently passed through the House and now Gomez wants the Senate to pass it as well.

In February, the Equality Act was reintroduced to the House of Representatives. The bill passed through the House for a second time on Feb. 25. In a recent interview with the Recording Academy, the institution that hosts the Grammy Awards, Gomez is telling the Senate to vote on the bill this time and pass it through.

“We’ve come a long way in the last 10 years, but we have so much further to go,” Gomez said about the progress of LGBTQ+ rights in the country. “The Senate must pass the Equality Act. It’s absurd that this is even being debated in 2021.”

Gomez says the gay community helped support her 2009 breakthrough hit “Naturally.”

While Gomez was promoting her Latin music EP Revelación, she also revisited a few of her past hits. In 2009, she launched her music career with her band The Scene. Later that year, Gomez got her first top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with her breakthrough smash “Naturally.” While talking about her relationship with the gay community, she says they were the first ones to show that song love.

“Earlier you mentioned my song ‘Naturally’ and I remember when it was released, it truly started getting played in the gay bars before anywhere else,” she said. “I would hear from older friends that they heard when they went out. I was so jealous that I was too young to be out and dancing to it with everyone. The LGBTQ+ community has been there for me and I don’t take them for granted.”

The Equality Act is waiting to be debated by the Senate. This is Gomez’s first time speaking in support of the bill. Last year, she launched the Black Equality Fund to support groups like the Movement for Black Lives.  In March, she also asked for the Senate to pass the People Act.

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Read: Selena Gomez and Myke Towers’ “Dámelo To’” is Everything: Listen to the ‘Revelación’ Standout

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