Things That Matter

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

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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

These Trans Latina Cosmetologists Are Fighting For LGBTQ Rights

Entertainment

These Trans Latina Cosmetologists Are Fighting For LGBTQ Rights

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Four years ago, Lesly Herrera Castillo and Joselyn Mendoza both had a vision to create a worker-owned makeup and hair salon for the trans Latino community in Jackson Heights, New York. It was ambitious and for them, it was necessary. For years, the duo faced racial and gender discrimination from employers. Their own community, Jackson Heights, was also becoming a problem as the area became the site of multiple anti-trans hate crimes in recent years. So they came together with a plan to open Mirror Beauty Cooperative in 2015.

The beauty shop would create numerous jobs for the local trans community but more importantly assist undocumented individuals who were denied opportunities due to their legal status. So Castillo and Mendoza made the important decision to register the business as a cooperative cooperation (co-op). This was done so the salon would basically be “worker-run” and there would be no need for things like social security numbers, an obstacle many undocumented workers face when applying to jobs. Instead, the salon will use individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITINs).

“The significance of the cooperative for me is that it’s an opportunity to create more jobs and make a space that’s free of discrimination,” Mendoza told the HuffPost. “As trans women, we don’t often have access to a healthy economy, and this allows us to change that and obtain other services like health care.”

While their idea started four years ago, the duo hasn’t yet obtained a physical space to open up the salon. But they hope with enough support this vision can become a reality. 

Credit: @equalityfed / Twitter

While both Castillo and Mendoza haven’t opened up a physical salon space, they are both continuing to work in other salons as they continue to save and plan for the Mirror Beauty Cooperative. This past May they began to reach out to more people to help fund their goal through a GoFundMe Campaign. The results of the campaign fund have been less than 1 percent of their $150,000 goal. The duo has also faced other socioeconomic setbacks like lack of traditional education and the economic instability due to their immigrant background. 

“Latina trans women always have multiple obstacles in the way,” Mendoza said. “I think if a collective of white trans women were to start a project like this, their incubation process would be faster than ours because of their historical access to privilege.” 

But Herrera notes that the white trans community is still an ally to them even though they are on different economic levels. “We can always depend on the white trans community” to offer support “because they know they’re on a better [economic] level.”

For the trans, gender-queer and nonbinary community, job discrimination has been a reoccurring issue. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 16 percent of gender-queer and nonbinary respondents who had held jobs reported having been fired for their gender identity or expression. But for trans women and trans people of color, they were the most likely to have gone through this. 

While the salon is still in progress, Castillo and Mendoza have become a presence in their own neighborhood uplifting and bringing attention to the trans Latino community. 

As of now, the duo has a secret backup plan in case they don’t meet their fundraising goals by the end of the year. They hope that the campaign does one thing though, create and share their broader call for building community with people. 

That has already started to take place as Castillo, Hernandez and their new partner, Jonahi Rosa have all become presences in Jackson Heights advocating for the trans community. The trio even participated in the Queens Pride Parade as co-grand marshals. This has also included various charity events for local LGTBQ+ youth. 

They all feel that the salon has the potential to bring people together and spread awareness about issues that affect their lives every day. From the start, the trio has always wanted to not only create a space for the trans community but give them an opportunity. 

“We want to work, [and] we want to give agency to our community,” Rosa said. “It’s a perfect opportunity for our community to come together and make something for our future.”

READ: Our FIERCE Readers Share Some of the Most Outrageous Lies They’ve Told To Get Some Time Away With Their Boo

Study Finds That Four Girls Under 13 Are Raped Every Hour In Brazil

Things That Matter

Study Finds That Four Girls Under 13 Are Raped Every Hour In Brazil

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A troubling study is highlighting the horrible state of women’s safety in Brazil. This time, a non-governmental organization found that girls under the age of 13 are facing a horrific trend of rapes within the South American country. Here is what the study by the Brazilian Forum of Public Security found.

A new study shows that four girls under 13 are raped every hour in Brazil.

Credit: Saulo Cruz / Flickr

The study also found that police receive a call every two minutes to report a violent attack against a woman. The study shows a very troubling side of one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women.

“Brazil is still one of the most dangerous places in the world for women,” Valeria Scarance, a public prosecutor, told Brazilian newspaper Globo’s Jornal Nacional. “And the most dangerous place for a woman is her own home.”

To make matters worse, the Brazilian government has been stripping away crucial places of safety for women. According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), in 2017, the Brazilian government closed 23 shelters for victims fo domestic violence citing budget cuts as the reason. The following year, Jair Bolsonaro was elected as president and it sparked fear and outrage throughout the country. At the start of 2018, the HRC also found that 1.2 million domestic violence cases were pending before courts throughout the country.

The violence against women in Brazil has been at the forefront of Brazilian protests for years, even before the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.

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In the lead up to one of the largest sporting event in the world, Brazilians protested to warn potential tourists of the crimes being committed. The famous Copacabana Beach was filled with panties and images of women who have been sexually assaulted in Brazil.

Brazilians highlighted the death of a 17-year-old girl at the hands of a group of men to warn tourists of the dangers of being in the country.

The election of Jair Bolsonaro reignited the efforts of protesters across the country to bring attention to the violence women face every day in Brazil.

Bolsonaro, like President Trump, energized the far-right of Brazil. Minority groups, women, and the indigenous defenders tried to warn the nation against electing Bolsonaro are the president of Brazil to no avail. Since taking office, Bolsonaro has attacked women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, indigenous rights, environmental rights, and anything you can really think of.

In one display of troubling rhetoric, Bolsonaro told a congresswoman that she was not worthy of being raped. He made the statement on Brazil’s TV Globo and stated he wasn’t worth rape because she was too ugly, sparking outrage.

As the world deals with injustices at the hands of apathetic governments, Brazilians are trying to fight to save women.

Credit: @Prynces11 / Twitter

The violence against women is startling in Brazil. Only time will tell if Brazilians will be able to put enough pressure on the nation’s leaders to exact the change they want to see for women’s rights.

READ: Indigenous Women Of Brazil Are Refusing To Keep Quiet Over The Country’s President’s Policies