Sexuality Policy Watch

First Brazilian National LGBT Conference: Contexts and Analysis

By Marina Maria*

The First Brazilian National Conference on LGBT public policies was held in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, from June 5th to 8th of this year. It gathered around 1500 participants including governmental representatives, Brazilian activists and international observers from the field of sexuality. The goal of the conference was to propose and validate public policies and elaborate the National Plan to Promote the Citizenship and Human Rights of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex people. It also aimed at discussing strategies to strengthen Brazil without Homophobia, the national policy created in 2004 to eliminate violence and discrimination against the LGBTI population.

As analyzed by Sergio Carrara (CLAM/IMS/UERJ), the primary debates of the conference revolved around the struggle for visibility across the diverse set of identities that compose the LGBT movement. As a result, one of the key outcomes of the conference was that the title of both the conference and of the Brazilian Association has changed from GLBT to LGBT. By placing “lesbians” before “gays,” this linguistic change aims to overcome the misogyny that still prevails in the LGBT community and give higher visibility to the double discrimination lesbians experience as women and as “homosexuals”.

While the conference was a major policy and cultural achievement, discrimination remains a problem in Brazil. For example, during the Conference, a homophobia case involving a gay couple in the military gained wide media attention. Shortly before the event, Laci Marinho de Araújo, a sergeant, and Fernando Alcântara de Figueiredo, a soldier, made a declaration to a popular weekly magazine regarding their homosexuality and longstanding stable relationship. After successive appearances and statements on TV programs and in the press, they were accused of violating military regulations and were arrested by the Army. In addition, since the conference, hate crimes have continued, including the murder of a number of gays and transvestites .

In conclusion, Brazil’s government should be internationally recognized for convening (albeit under pressure and in partnership with civil society organizations) the First National Conference on LGBT public policies, which included the distribution of the Portuguese version of the Yogyakarta Principles to all participants. However, much still remains to be done. A deeper cultural transformation is still required and state policies and laws are needed to ensure that the human rights, well-being and bodily integrity of LGBTI persons are fulfilled and respected.

For more on this topic refer to the interviews about the conference dynamics and results with Sergio Carrara, coordinator of CLAM (in Portuguese) and Marcelo Ferreyra, coordinator of IGLHRC Latin American and Caribbean Program (in Spanish).

* Marina Maria is a journalist from the SPW – Abia Secretariat Team

:: Posted in 09/23/2008 ::

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