The LGBTQ community in Brazil still reels from the brutal attack on a gay man last week. Unidentified assailants attacked the victim in Florianópolis who beat him, raped him with sharp objects, and forced him to carve homophobic slurs into his own flesh.
The Guardian reports that police have not identified the victim by name to protect his privacy. After a brief hospitalization, he returned home to continue his recovery. Police have not made any arrests in connection with the case.
“This is a frightening crime but it’s very common in Brazil, and violence – not only against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people but also women, black people and immigrants – is worsening,” Lirous Ávila, president of the Association in Defence of Human Rights, an organization that helps victims of violence, said in a statement.
“It’s absurd to justify violence that is brutal and barbaric,” Ávila added.
News of the crime–which comes at the dawn of pride month, and amid COVID-19 related chaos in Brazil–has rocked the nation and earned wide condemnation from the public. Despite recent advances in queer rights–Brazilian courts banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in 2019–homophobia remains an ongoing problem in the country.
“Violence against LGBT people in Brazil has grown a lot recently,” noted Margareth Hernandes, a Florianópolis-based lawyer and president of the gender law commission. “Brazil is the world champion of LGBT murders. We are a very conservative country where there is still a lot of prejudice. Hate speech ends up propagating violence.”
In 2020, the watchdog group Grupo Gay da Bahia reported 224 murders and 13 suicides of queer people in Brazil alone. These crimes often go unpunished or, thanks to systemic homophobia among police, uninvestigated. Activists have also targeted criticism at President Jair Bolsonaro for doing nothing to curb the violence toward the community, and for his long history of homophobia.
“We have a president who compounded this violence,” Lirous Ávila charged. “It seems that the population feels it has a right to commit these violent acts against the LGBT population, influenced by Bolsonaro.”