Micro Rainbow International is undertaking research into the situation of poverty of LGBT people in Brazil. We have consulted with almost 50 LGBT people in Rio de Janeiro and are currently drafting a report, to be published in the second half of the year. In the meantime, we wanted to share with you some of the upsetting answers we have received when we asked interviewees if they had ever experienced discrimination.
87% of the interviewees (40 people) said that they have been discriminated against on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. The episodes of discrimination reported occurred in several places, for example within the household, in schools, in public places, on public transport, at healthcare facilities. They reported having been discriminated against by strangers, the community, religious leaders, by government officials, the police and their families. Below are only some of the episodes of discrimination mentioned by the interviewees:
In 2005, in Nova Iguaçu, I was tied upside down on a bridge for almost an hour by a group of teenagers who wanted to frighten me until a couple passed by and saved me.
8 years ago I was threatened with death after having sex with a policeman and I suffered a violent assault and ended up in hospital.
When I tried to rent a flat, the landlord didn’t want to give me the flat after he realized I was a trans woman. That happened other times too.
This week a passenger on a bus threatened to kick me out of the bus because I was talking to my transvestite friends. This kind of thing happens frequently.
At my former job, my workmates would make homophobic jokes and I was fired for being gay.
During childhood and my teenage years, my mom and stepdad wouldn’t accept I was gay and I suffered humiliations and verbal assaults in my own house.
A year ago, my hotel reservation was cancelled when I arrived after they noticed we were a lesbian couple.
The parents of my students convened a meeting with the principal to prohibit me from teaching there because I was a “masculine lesbian”. I had to resign.
Once I was stoned on the streets by a group of neighbours.
I was kicked out of school in 5th grade by the principal because I was trans.
Last year I was beaten up by homophobic strangers on the streets.
I was in a bus and when they noticed I was gay, a guy began to harass me, touching me with his penis to make me feel uncomfortable and calling me “faggot” and other horrible names.
In 2012 I had a corneal ulcer and I didn’t receive the appropriate treatment from a public hospital because I am a transvestite.
In 2010, while leaving a party in a favela, I was assaulted by 9 “Funkeiros” (men from the favela), who kicked me until I lost consciousness.
When I was in jail, I was forced to take off my clothes and walk naked in front of the prisoners. Afterwards I would be “auctioned” by the guards.
From 2008 to 2011, while being assessed to work in beauty parlours, I was always dismissed when they found out I was trans.
In 2006 I was prohibited from going to church when they found out I was lesbian.
Recently, a guy sat next to me on the bus with a knife and tried to violate me and assault me physically.
I am frequently a victim of hate speech from pastors and religious people at the Sans Pena Square.
The other day the bar owner prohibited me from sitting at his bar for being gay.
Social attitudes towards homosexuality and transexuality have to change in Brazil and in other parts of the world if we really want an equal society and equal rights for all. These episodes of discrimination and hatred are not acceptable and feed a vicious cycle that make LGBTI people more vulnerable to poverty and abuse. After our research and local consultations are completed we hope to be in a better position to identify actions that can lead to changing social attitudes and crucially address the situation of the poverty of LGBTI people.